Graduate Courses in Global Mental Health

The courses here have been offered in recent semesters; please check the official course directory for each Columbia school to confirm current registration availability.

Priorities in Global Mental Health

Mailman School of Public Health

Primary Instructors: Kathleen Pike, PhD and Tahilia J. Rebello, PhD

Priorities in Global Mental Health is a collaborative, team-taught course that provides an overview of critical issues in mental health and mental illness worldwide. Around the globe, mental and neurological conditions are the leading cause of disability. These disorders know no political bounds, and the burden of mental disorders on low- and middle-income countries is especially great given the enormous gaps in public understanding and services for mental health. It is estimated that 76% – 85% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorders, and even in high-income countries 35%-50% of such individuals never receive care. Historically, the global health agenda has prioritized communicable and noncommunicable diseases other than mental health; however, the data now unequivocally and overwhelmingly point to the essential need to make mental health an integral component of the global health agenda. In Priorities in Global Mental Health, through class readings, projects and discussions, students will have the opportunity to learn about essential current issues, discuss innovative collaborations, and critically examine strategic initiatives aimed at promoting health reducing the burden of mental illness around the globe.

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Mental Health Policy

Mailman School of Public Health

Instructor: Kathleen Pike, PhD

This course will provide an overview of the history of mental health policy in the United States, the nature of mental illness and effective intervention, and the elements of mental health policy. We will discuss the components of the mental health service system, mental health finance, the process of policy making, population-based mental health policies, and mental health in health policy reform. Students are expected to be able to understand the range of mental health illnesses/populations, to explain the concerns about quality, access, and cost of mental health services as well as the workings of policy mechanisms such as financing as they are applied to mental health. They are also expected to understand mental health policy considerations in current health care reform debates.

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Psychosocial and Mental Health Issues in Forced Migration

Mailman School of Public Health

Instructor: Mike Wessells, PhD

Contemporary armed conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies create significant mental health burdens and psychosocial suffering that damages health and well-being, limits development, and enables cycles of violence. Taking a multidisciplinary approach, this course examines the sources of psychosocial vulnerability and resilience in situations of forced migration and analyzes what kinds of emergency psychosocial and mental health interventions are most effective, appropriate, and scalable. It reviews broadly the current state of knowledge and practice, surveys practical tools of holistic psychosocial and mental health support in emergency settings, and analyzes the current limitations of the field. The course probes how issues of culture and power shape understandings and measures of mental health and psychosocial well-being, and it invites critical thinking about the implications of the “Do No Harm” imperative in regard to psychosocial and mental health supports. It also encourages thinking about how psychosocial support relates to wider tasks of humanitarian relief, economic and political reconstruction, protection, and peace building.

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Introduction to Global Mental Health

Teachers College

Instructor: Lena Verdeli, PhD

This is a foundation course in global mental health and includes topics central to research, practice, and policy of common and severe mental health conditions around the globe with emphasis on under-resourced regions. It encourages learners to think critically about the cultural, clinical, research, and ethical assumptions of the global mental health field.

Get more info about this course here