Professor Deepa Rao and her colleagues say stigma, poor mental health, and substance abuse drive many global health problems, including diabetes, preterm birth, trauma injuries, self-harm and motor vehicle deaths. More than one billion people suffer from a mental health illness or substance abuse problem. “Mental health has been a neglected disease in global health,” says Rao, co-director of the UW Global Mental Health Program.
The next step is improving treatment. The Global Mental Health Program seeks philanthropic support for faculty, pilot research projects, and student scholarships and fellowships. Rao and her colleagues are conducting research and training to address gaps in global mental health interventions. One successful example is Professor Debra Kaysen’s therapy work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women are traumatized from domestic violence and rape.