First-of-its-Kind International Conference Aims to Catalyze and Inspire Global Action to Improve and Extend the Lives of People with Serious Mental Illness

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Elizabeth Lion

elion@fountainhouse.org

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First-of-its-Kind International Conference Aims to Catalyze and Inspire Global Action to Improve and Extend the Lives of People with Serious Mental Illness

The Healthier Longer Lives for People with Serious Mental Illness International Conference will take place in New York City from November 8 – 9, 2018

 

May 22, 2018 – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with serious mental illness die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population. “The majority of deaths in these persons are due to preventable physical diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and infections,” says Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization. “In every country of the world, but particularly in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), serious mental illness is one of the most pervasive yet least addressed health challenges.”

 

This November 8 – 9, 2018 Fountain House, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Global Mental Health at Columbia University Medical Center, Grand Challenges Canada and citiesRISE, will convene a first-of-its-kind international conference Healthier Longer Lives for People with Serious Mental Illness to drive change and inspire investment and implementation of global, national and local action that improves the lives of people with serious mental illness. The conference is coordinated with technical support of the WHO, and with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), World Psychiatric Association (WPA), World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR) and Clubhouse International as collaborating partners.

 

Current conference panelists and presenters include: King’s College London Professor of Community Psychiatry, Sir Graham Thornicroft; Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Martin Knapp; Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Abe Fekadu Wassie; Director of Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy at the Indian Law Society, Soumitra Pathare; and Associate Dean and Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California and the author of the memoir “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness”, Elyn Saks.

 

“Serious mental illness has been poorly addressed on a global scale because it is often viewed as an insurmountable challenge with no solution,” said Fountain House President Kenneth J. Dudek. “However, we know from our own work over 70 years and that of extraordinary best practices around the world that there is hope for this population to live a good life and to ease the burden for public health. It takes the collaboration of science, research, best practice, policymakers, and philanthropists to create cross-sector solutions to truly effect change.”

 

“Individuals with serious mental illness have significant health comorbidities and lower life expectancies than the general public today. This doesn’t have to be the case,” states Director of the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University, Dr Kathleen M. Pike. “If we simply put into practice the knowledge we currently have about health and healthcare, we could dramatically enhance the quality of life for individuals with serious mental illness, which would exponentially improve the quality of life for all members of society.”

 

“Mental illness contributes to 14 percent of the global burden of disease worldwide, with the majority of this burden occurring in low- and middle-income countries,” states Dr. Karlee Silver, VP Programs at Grand Challenges Canada. “By partnering on this international conference, we are edging closer to our global goal to flip the gap – where currently only 10 percent of people with mental illness have access to treatment and care, we are committed to reverse this so that 90 percent will have access to high-quality, evidence-based treatment and care.”

 

“Mental health is humanity’s largest asset and mental illness its largest burden. The good news is that proven strategies exist to mainstream mental health into our communities and neighborhoods – we need to accelerate a coordinated approach to support people and inter-human relationships of all types,” said Dr. Moitreyee Sinha, CEO and co-Founder of citiesRISE. “With this conference, we are flipping the current approach to mental health on its head – bringing together the right mix of innovators and leaders across sectors to create systemic blueprints for change.”

 

“As New York City takes on an ambitious effort to think and act comprehensively on mental health and illness through ThriveNYC, we are honored to be host city and join in shining this crucial light and driving the coalitions and change needed to close this gap in health for those with serious mental illness" said Dr. Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of Mental Hygiene at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

The WHO is planning to launch formal guidelines for the management of physical health conditions in people with serious mental illness at the conference.

 

Registration is now open for the Healthier Longer Lives for People with Serious Mental Illness International Conference. Limited scholarships are available for participants interested in attending who need additional support to cover expenses. To register, head to healthierlongerlives.org.

 

ABOUT THE HEALTHIER LONGER LIVES FOR PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

The Healthier Longer Lives for People with Serious Mental Illness international conference will take place on November 8-9, 2018 in New York City. The conference is created by Fountain House in partnership with World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Global Mental Health at Columbia University Medical Center, Grand Challenges Canada and citiesRISE, with technical support from the World Health Organization. The conference will: showcase innovations from around the world that are improving the health of people with serious mental illness; present new scientific advances; raise awareness of effective interventions; engage partners in other fields; and create a space to inspire investment in and implementation of best practices. 

Healthier Longer Lives

 

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