Art and Mental Health

The Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health is committed to partnering with artists to work toward shared goals of challenging the stigma of mental illness, elevating the voices of individuals with lived experiences, and improving the quality of mental health care worldwide.

Since 2019, the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health has been collaborating with artists with lived experiences to enhance the Global Mental Health Academy (GMHA), an online platform to train clinicians around the world on the ICD-11 diagnostic guidelines for Mental, Behavioural, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. As such, we are deeply grateful for these individuals who have shared their creative talents and experiences to improve the quality of the GMHA training materials.

In developing the GMHA training modules, we worked with independent artists as well as artists affiliated with the Fountain House Gallery. Please see below to learn more about these artists, listed in alphabetical order.

The works of artists in the Fountain House community are currently on exhibition at the Fountain House Gallery Artsy page. Several artists also have individual websites, and their work can be viewed in the links included below.


Azure Bourne
Azure, a primarily self-taught artist, began making collages and abstract drawings in the 1970s. She majored in voice and piano at the High School of Music and Art, but it was a Fine Arts course at Syracuse University that spurred her love of art and led her to take painting courses at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts, and a photography class at The New School. Azure works principally in the medium of collage; she is attracted by a variety of elements – metal, wire, wood, images on printed material, nature – and by discovering the surprise in the shape, color and texture of “found objects” that inspire her to create. Her pieces reflect our time, connect her with other artists, and reveal aspects of herself that might otherwise remain hidden. Says Azure, “A found object, which to me is a gift from the universe, can remain something wonderful on its own – something to cherish and meditate on for the day or longer.” She was one of four artists spotlighted in the Fountain Gallery exhibition Collaged Realities.

Azure’s art is featured in Unit 6: Obsessive-Compulsive or Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Ann Fischman
Ann is a collage artist living and working in New York City. Her collages often function as a dream might – an expression of emotion interlaced with experience, but in a context removed from reality. Ann works by collecting images from used auction catalogues, magazines, and newspapers. These images are later combined, often with other media, to form a collage that projects a visual representation of her internal world. Ann’s work is for sale and can be seen on her website.

Ann’s art is featured in Unit 3: Schizophrenia or Other Primary Psychotic Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Guiomar Giraldo-Baron
A fashion and costume designer, Guiomar holds a BA in Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She was selected to show her designs at the IDENTITIES fashion show at Harvard University and has received commissions to create custom-made gowns. As a painter, she works primarily in oil and acrylic, and on occasion in watercolor. Guiomar has a facility for figurative subjects such as portraits and landscapes and would like to take on the challenge of making abstract works. Guiomar’s work can be found on her website.

Guiomar’s art is featured in Unit 10: Feeding or Eating Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Roger Jones
Roger’s preferred subject matter for his acrylic paintings includes scenes of New York City and its people, and representations of nature. He studied painting and book arts such as bookbinding via programs at the organization Community Access and cites the works of Picasso as an ongoing source of inspiration. Roger also creates jewelry pieces and offers them for sale at local bazaars. His work has been featured in a group show at White Columns.

Roger’s art is featured in Unit 13: Disorders Due to Addictive Behaviours and Impulse Control Disorder on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Gary Peabody
Gary’s body of work includes paintings in the abstract style as well as landscapes and portraits. His pieces have been shown at numerous New York City venues, including Frieze Art Fair, Queens Museum, and HAI, where he was a longtime participant in the Studio program. Gary studied at Boston Architecture College and served as a consultant in urban planning for the city of Boston. He was involved in early brainstorming sessions for the project that culminated in establishing New York City’s High Line.

Gary’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Barry Senft
A self-described “artist of many styles,” Barry works in mediums ranging from drawing and painting to sculpture and collage. He favors painting abstract landscapes in intense colors. He worked for many years as a jewelry designer, creating designs as well as producing molds and models for casting. Barry’s formal art education was through School of Visual Arts, and he has also studied at the Center for the Media Arts and Pels School of Commercial Art. His work was featured in the Fountain House Gallery two-person show Urban Faces.

Barry’s art is featured in Unit 6: Obsessive-Compulsive or Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Gail Shamchenko
Gail is a self-taught artist who works primarily in oil and colored pencil. She also has skills in photography and writing and has dabbled in the theatre. Her pieces were featured in a two-person exhibit at the corporate headquarters of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. in New York City, and her artwork was honored with an award from the Haym Salomon Foundation. Gail has conducted workshops in color therapy, and she founded a supported housing program to serve people with mental illness. At Fountain House Gallery she shared a two-person show, Serendipitous, with Nelia Gibbs and was one of the artists featured in the exhibition 4 Women 4 Voices 4 Visions. Says Gail, “I am so grateful to have been given the gift to create art. It never ceases to amaze me that when I touch brush to canvas, magic happens.”

Gail’s art is featured in Unit 5: Anxiety or Fear-Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Susan Spangenberg
A self-taught artist, Susan is also an actor, writer, and filmmaker. She performs under the stage name Shyla Idris. Her work is autobiographical, commenting on her experience in the mental health system as well as touching upon racial issues and other areas of social injustice. Susan works in acrylic and mixed media from small to large unframed work, including body prints, collage, and painting on found objects. Her work was shown in the City Arts exhibit in Nottingham, marking the first time pieces by an artist working outside the UK were selected for inclusion. Susan’s work can be found on her website.

Susan’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Greg Stanger
Greg has had no formal art training. He uses watercolor and acrylic as a base medium and incorporates into his work elements of mixed media – metal, newsprint, and found objects. An accomplished poet, Greg is currently majoring in English literature and creative writing at City College. His artwork reflects the manner in which he experiences life in New York City, and as a New Yorker abroad.

Greg’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Carlos Runcie Tanaka
A one-time philosophy major at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Carlos Runcie Tanaka studied ceramics in Brazil, Italy, and Japan. He has held individual and collective exhibitions, representing Peru in eight major exhibitions in Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Spain from 1991 to 2019. His work is in public and private collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Art Museum of the Americas, World Bank Art Collection, Inter-American Development Bank Art Collection in the US and the Museo de Arte de Lima, Museo de Arte de San Marcos, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Arequipa in Peru. Carlos’ work can be found on his website.

Carlos’ art is featured in Unit 7: Disorders Specifically Associated with Stress on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Robin Taylor
After a successful 35-year career in theatre, Robin found a new creative outlet in sculpting and painting. Her theatrical experiences serve as an inspiration for her work, much of which expresses her frustration at being a hard-of-hearing person navigating hearing and deaf realities. Robin has worked in a variety of sculpting mediums, including bronze, steel, wire mesh, acrylic and clay, and in each she pays meticulous attention to surface, contour, and texture. “Texture” is also a hallmark of Robin’s mixed-media paintings, in which she incorporates found objects such as buttons, zippers and wire. Robin has shown her work in more than 15 group shows and in two solo shows on the theme of deafness. She was awarded 2nd Place in the Second Annual Juried De’VIA Competition and Exhibit, and she has exhibited in the National Touring Exhibition of Deaf Culture Art. Her work has been presented at the Outsider Art Fair. The Final Bow, Robin’s five-foot-tall, 600-pound bronze and copper sculpture, is on view at Fountain House.

Robin’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Maura Terese
Maura received a BA in Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography from Fordham College at Lincoln Center. She furthered her education at premier art schools including San Francisco Art Institute, California College of Art, and School of Visual Arts. Maura’s work is autobiographical, focusing on her lifelong battle with mania – illuminating the struggles and celebrating the triumphs. She executes each work in the medium best suited to its theme and subject matter. Of late she has moved from shooting photographs to conceptualizing and art directing photographs in which she often appears as a subject.

Maura’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


Laura Anne Walker
A native New Yorker, Laura Anne began drawing at age three. Her preferred mediums are ink and graphite. Her pieces have been shown in more than 50 group exhibitions, and in a solo show of 60 works in SoHo. Laura Anne’s work has been published in a number of online and print publications, including Raw Vision and Folk Art Messenger. A graduate of both Cornell University and the Bank Street College of Education, Laura Anne is a permanently certified, permanently licensed former teacher. She is currently a Crisis Intervention Team panelist, serving as a liaison between the police and people who are experiencing emotional distress. Says Laura Anne, “For any awards or honors I have received, I thank my muses – the cats that have graced my life.”

Laura’s art is featured in Unit 14: Personality Disorders and Related Traits on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.


CHIMERA is a five-year (2019–2024) HIV, mental health, and implementation science research training program funded by the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Mental Health of the US NIH (D43 MPIs Sohn and Wainberg). CHIMERA aims to address the critical need to build capacity among Asia-Pacific clinicians and researchers to study the intersection between HIV and mental health and integrate care for people living with HIV.

For more information on our Fellows and Mentors, please click here.

Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health

The Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health, formerly the Columbia University Global Mental Health Program, is a center that runs numerous advocacy, research, and training initiatives in global mental health. This center is directed by Dr. Kathleen M. Pike.

The following programs are managed by the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health:





The Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health is supported by an International Advisory Board and Young Professionals Board which contribute philanthropically and programmatically to the center.

To learn more about the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health, please contact: [email protected]

Council Grants Program

The Columbia University Global Mental Health Council Grants Program is an initiative of the Council for the Advancement of Global Mental Health Research to fund new investigators and new ideas in global mental health. All funds raised through the Council will support Council Grant Program recipients to complete innovative research in the area of global mental health.

Faculty listed on this program are the Core Faculty Review Group of the Council Grants Program.

The Council Grant Review Committee Co-Chairs are: Dr. Tahilia J. Rebello and Dr. Jeremy Kane

The application submission deadline for the 2022-2023 Council Grants Program has now passed. Applications are currently being reviewed and all applicants will be notified via email in August 2022. Questions can be directed to: [email protected]


2021-2022 Council Grant Recipients

The Call for Proposals for the Council Grants Program was released in February 2021 and closed on April 18th 2021. Four grant proposals were chosen for funding for the 2021-2022 school year:

1. Rogerio Mulumba, MD, Iruma Bello, PhD, Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH, & Milton L. Wainberg, MD: Development of a Recovery-oriented Psychosocial Treatment Model for Individuals with Schizophrenia in Mozambique.

In Mozambique, schizophrenia is the leading cause of hospitalizations in psychiatric units and the second leading cause of seeking psychiatric services. However, the national mental health system is still being developed and expanded. There is an insufficient number of trained mental health providers to meet the mental health needs and a heavy reliance on antipsychotic medication as treatment. Furthermore, cultural attitudes towards mental illness and traditional healing methods lead to the use of mental health services primarily for crisis situations. Given this context, we aim to engage community members in research to 1) identify local attitudes towards treatment of and recovery from schizophrenia; 2) convene a workgroup to develop culturally-resonant psychosocial interventions that can complement medication management; and 3) assess if the intervention is well-received by providers at a local community health center. This data will help to refine the intervention and inform future implementation plans for testing feasibility and acceptability more broadly.

2. Annika Sweetland, DrPH, MPH & Francine Cournos, MD: Exploring Patients’ and Provider’ Perspectives on Managing the Complex Multimorbidities of TB, HIV, Common Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders within Primary Care in Mozambique.

Tuberculosis (TB), HIV, and common mental and substance use disorders are frequently co-occurring and negatively synergistic. HIV, mental, and substance use disorders are risk factors for TB; TB and HIV are risk factors for mental and substance use disorders; the combination of having multiple chronic health conditions (multimorbidities) is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and increased infectious disease transmission. While integrating mental and medical care to address these conditions is considered essential, little is known about addressing these concerns in low- and middle-income countries, as 95% of multimorbidity research comes from high-income countries and has a very different focus on co-occurring, non-infectious diseases in an aging population. This study aims to build on lessons from high-income countries by adapting a multimorbidity framework for low- and middle-income countries. In doing so, an integrated strategy for addressing TB, HIV, and common mental and substance use disorders in Mozambique can be developed.

3. Christina Mehranbod, MPH, Jeremy Kane, PhD, MPH, Kim Hekimian, PhD, & Christopher Morrison, PhD, MPH: Post-war, Mid-pandemic: A Mixed Methods Study of Alcohol Consumption Patterns and Alcohol Use Environment of Young Adults in Yerevan, Armenia.

In 2020, Armenia experienced the compounding impact of a devastating war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a continued high rate of premature death. Conflict, crises, and instability are often associated with the increased risk of unhealthy alcohol use. Low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) are disproportionately affected by the consequences of unhealthy alcohol use. The goal of this research is to identify opportunities for preventive intervention to reduce alcohol use and related harms in Armenia. This research project will 1) assess the distribution and density of alcohol outlets and alcohol advertisements in the neighborhoods of Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia; 2) explore youth adults’ perceptions, views, behavioral norms, and cultural contexts related to alcohol use and mental health; and 3) examine health care providers’ views of potential screening and intervention methods to address unhealthy alcohol use in young adults. This research has the potential to inform programming and policies to develop affordable interventions that reduce unhealthy alcohol use and improve mental health.

4. Jennifer Mootz, PhD, & Michael Wessells, PhD: Implementation Mapping of Digitized Mental Health Services for Urban Internally Displaced People in Mozambique.

An escalating religious insurgency in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has resulted in almost 2,000 civilian deaths and 674,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who have migrated to the neighboring Nampula Province and provincial capital. Nampula City, host to the largest number of IDPs in Nampula Province, is the central hub where two federally funded studies, in partnership with the Mozambican Ministry of Health, are taking place to increase comprehensive public mental health care using technology and to tailor mental health care to address social determinants and additional vulnerabilities, such as exposure to intimate partner violence, among IDPs. We propose to leverage these two existing studies and further respond to the unmet mental health needs of urban IDPs in Nampula City. We aim to 1) deepen our understanding of mental health needs and community members’ perceptions of digital mental health services for urban IDPs; and 2) develop a coordinated strategy to implement community-based, digitized mental illness detection and treatment among urban IDPs. The findings from this study will represent a low-cost, community-informed, digitized mental health care strategy that could be relevant for use among urban IDPs in other low- and middle-income countries.


2020-2021 Council Grant Recipients:

The Call for Proposals for the Council Grant Program was released in May 2020 and closed on July 15th, 2020. Four grant proposals were chosen for funding for the 2020-2021 school year:

1. Ali Giusto, PhD & Milton Wainberg, MD: Leveraging Community Strengths to Implement a Task-shifted Alcohol Use and Family Engagement Treatment for Fathers in Kenya

  • Background: Problem drinking disproportionally affects men with disabling individual and family consequences, including couple violence and child mental illness, which can be exacerbated in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Research Goals: This study aims to identify factors that will shape the large-scale implementation of a task-shifted intervention (intervention delivered by non-specialist, lay providers) targeting alcohol use and family engagement among fathers with problem drinking in Kenya. By addressing the burden of alcohol use, this intervention has the potential to improve family relationships and reduce mental distress among fathers, their partners, and their children.
  • Progress and Impact: During 2020-2021, the team completed all focus groups and interviews in Eldoret, Kenya, with key stakeholders, including policy makers, hospital leaders, professional mental health providers, community and peer mental health providers, men experiencing problem drinking (patients), as well as past providers and patients who participated in the pilot trial of the intervention to be implemented. This initial work has revealed diverse perspectives on barriers and facilitators to delivering care to men in this community, but the need for scalable, affordable outpatient services was a common theme from the interviews. Formal analysis of this information will be presented in multi-stakeholder workgroups to develop a plan for implementation of the mental health treatment relevant for men’s engagement. Partnership with Columbia’s Global Center in Kenya has been essential for facilitating this Council-funded project, and the outcomes of this work have informed the team’s submission of a K23 NIMH award for a future project in Kenya.

2. Lola Kola, PhD & Kathleen M. Pike, PhD: Responding to the Challenges of Adolescent Perinatal Depression with Digital Video Intervention

  • Background: Adolescents with perinatal depression have unique needs and are impacted by a variety of barriers (such as low social support and feelings of ostracization) that results in their limited use of health care services and treatment.
  • Research goals: This research project evaluates the feasibility and acceptability of a digital health intervention to improve mental health outcomes for adolescents with perinatal depression in Nigeria. By delivering short videos of evidence-based psychosocial interventions in peer-supported groups (supplementing face-to-face treatment in the context of primary care), this intervention has the potential to improve social support and effectiveness of treatment among adolescent mothers.
  • Progress and Impact: During 2020-2021, the team recruited adolescents with perinatal depression from primary care centers in Ibadan Oyo State, Nigeria, to participate in small groups facilitated by peer leaders who were under 19 years old and had lived experience with perinatal depression. The peer leaders provided group members with social support during group meetings and through regular phone calls. Educational videos developed based on WHO mhGAP guidelines were also used to manage depression among young mothers. Friendships quickly formed as adolescents and peer leaders contacted each other even outside of the group to discuss their experiences and questions. After the fourteen-week intervention concluded, participants reported that this group intervention helped them see that they can still become who they desire to be, despite their unintended pregnancies. The adolescents also expressed that they would recommend the program to other friends in need. The team will continue to analyze data from this intervention and submit publications that demonstrate how digital health technologies and peer-led groups can enhance the capacity of community mental health care in low and middle-income countries. This research also provides the necessary foundation for an NIH R01 application that will evaluate the use of a mobile phone application and a peer-support group intervention utilizing short videos to treat perinatal depression in adolescent mothers.

3. María Elena Medina-Mora, PhD & Geoffrey Reed, PhD: Developing a Methodology for Estimating the Central American Migrant Population in Mexico and Assessing Migrants’ Experiences and Health and Mental Health Status

  • Background: The wellbeing of migrants, who are coming from Central America and traveling through Mexico with the aim of entering the US, is often compromised by extreme poverty or violence in their countries of origin and traumatic circumstances experienced during their journey. Because the vast majority enter Mexico unofficially, little is known about the current size of the migrant population and their physical and mental health needs.
  • Research goals: This research initiative tests a methodology that could allow an accurate estimation of the size of the Central American migrant population in Tijuana, Mexico, as well as to better understand the health and mental health of the migrant population. This study will generate critical information that can be used by the Mexican government to address the needs of this population and prevent additional suffering and disease burden.
  • Progress and Impact: During 2020-2021, a mathematical model was developed to estimate the size of the migrant population based on information from border crossings and shelters in Tijuana, Mexico. Interviews and questionnaires were also developed and pilot-tested at a local shelter with migrants who had recently entered Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Cuba. Based on feedback from these pilot interviews, the final versions of the questionnaires to measure the population size, experiences, and health of migrants were developed. Interviews have also been conducted with key informants, including doctors, psychologists, coordinators, and volunteers from five different shelters. Due to pandemic-related difficulties, the fieldwork has been slightly delayed, and it is expected that the project will be completed in 2022.

4. Sandrine Müller, PhD & Sandra Matz, PhD: The Impact of COVID-19 and Social Distancing on Mental Health Across the World: Using Smartphones for Assessment and Intervention

  • Background: Globally, widespread concerns exist about the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.
  • Research Goals: This study leverages a unique dataset gathered from over 980,000 users of the mHealth app Moodpath across multiple countries to study the impact of the pandemic on mental health. By comparing and analyzing data from 2019 and 2020, the team can investigate mood and depression trajectories as a function of the global pandemic and diverse social policies and pandemic experiences.
  • Progress and Impact: The team completed the investigation focused on individuals in the US, the UK, and Germany who have provided continuous data throughout 2020 and 2019. The study indicated that people –on average– show high levels of resilience. While the US saw momentary decreases in mood and increases in depression that quickly returned to baseline, Germany and the UK did not experience observable negative effects on mental health. When investigating the impact of social distancing on people’s mental health within-person, there is evidence that social distancing –on average– was associated with a decline in mental health. Funding from the Council Grants Program has allowed this research to be completed and written as a manuscript for publication.


2019-2020 Council Grant Recipients:

The first Call for Proposals for the Council Grant Program was released in May 2019 and closed on June 30th, 2019. Four grant proposals were chosen for funding for the 2019-2020 school year:

1. Catherine Carlson, PhD, MSW; Laura Cordisco Tsai, PhD, MSSW; and Milton Wainberg, MD: Cultural Adaptation of Safety Planning Intervention for Survivors of Human Trafficking in the Philippines

  • Background: Survivors of human trafficking experience higher risk of suicide in comparison to the general population, and in the Philippines, there is a critical need for increasing the capacity of service providers to implement Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) and reduce risk of suicide.
  • Research Goals: The aim is to adapt the existing Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) and create a culturally-informed intervention for Filipino survivors of human trafficking, as well as strengthen the human resource capacity for suicide prevention within an economic empowerment program.
  • Impact and Progress: Throughout 2019-2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the team worked with collaborators in the Philippines to complete the culturally-informed adaptation of SPI. The team trained 100% of the staff at the empowerment program, via a 5 month virtual training program, and the staff piloted the new suicide prevention protocol with human-trafficking survivors. During the pilot, there was a decrease in suicidal risk levels for 95% of the participating survivors, and now the team plans to disseminate these findings to improve the capacity of other anti-trafficking organizations to provide suicide prevention interventions for survivors.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

2. Roberto Lewis Fernandez, MD and Manuela Orjuela-Grimm, MD, ScM: Coping with Distress in a New Context: Self-coping and Community Resource Utilization Among Migrant Teens in the United States

  • Background: Teens migrating without a parent are frequently exposed to violence and hunger, and they could have elevated risk of PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, and substance use disorders. However, there is evidence showing that post-migration factors (participation in community groups and clubs) can facilitate coping strategies (e.g. playing sports, praying) that contribute to positive mental wellbeing.
  • Research Goal: This study aims to develop a survey tool to measure the use of community resources and self-coping strategies among a group of 50 teens who migrated from Latin America without a parent, to inform a larger study examining protective factors for migrant teens in the U.S.
  • Impact and Progress: During 2019-2020, the team adapted survey tools and conducted virtual interviews with teens in NYC. Although the pandemic presented challenges in the pace and cost of the project, 52 youth were interviewed using the adapted survey tool, and the team also added a component to capture the impact of the pandemic on the migrant youth. The Council Grant not only helped to provide crucial research data that justified the submission of larger grant applications, but it also helped to facilitate strong partnerships among investigators dedicated to integrating mental health in the vision of migrant health.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

3. Tsion Firew, MD; Claire Greene, PhD, MPH; and Milton Wainberg, MD: Developing a Screening and Referral System for Mental Health Problems Among Internally Displaced Persons in Ethiopia

  • Background: Ethiopia is experiencing unprecedented levels of internal displacement countrywide. The government has identified mental health as a priority concern among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and agencies have invested in increased delivery of mental health services, but there has not been systematic monitoring of the availability of care in the communities.
  • Research Goals: This study aims to assess the existing resources available to IDPs and returnees in Ethiopia and develop a screening and referral system for displaced persons to gain access to appropriate mental health care.
  • Impact and Progress: In early 2020, research activities were delayed due to an emergency response focused on the pandemic by government partners in Ethiopia. However, as of February 2021, the team completed 16 in-depth interviews with mental health providers and humanitarian practitioners. The interviews have revealed the challenges to service delivery, but it also revealed promising strategies to increase access to mental health care. The Council Grant helped to provide preliminary data for the team to use in future projects to continue evaluating strategies that improve access to mental health care for displaced persons in Ethiopia.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

4. Franco Mascayano, PhD Student; Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH; and Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH: Early Psychosis Identification Program in Chile

  • Background: In the absence of early intervention, psychotic disorders tend to become long-term disabling conditions. If individuals can receive treatment for psychosis shortly after initial contact with a healthcare provider, individuals can have greater improvements in short term and long term functioning. Currently, over 70% of the population in Chile receives health and mental health care via the public health system.
  • Research Goals: Using a technique that models the key dynamics and bottlenecks of the public healthcare system, this study aims to evaluate and then develop an Early Psychosis Identification (EPI) program that will improve the identification and referral pathways of individuals who experience first episode psychosis.
  • Impact and Progress: During 2019-2020, the team completed workshops with community members in Chile to develop the initial model outlining how individuals with early psychosis can obtain care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a second wave of workshops were held virtually with stakeholders to further discuss the specific factors that hinder and help individuals with first episode psychosis receive care. The initial results, made possible by the Council Grant, help to illustrate the historical and current trends of mental health care for individuals with psychosis in Chile.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.



Council for Global Mental Health Research

In February 2019, the Columbia Global Mental Health Programs launched the Council for the Advancement of Global Mental Health Research to support the next generation of mental health researchers around the world who are working to develop new strategies of mental health services and to expand treatment.

The Council is assembled of engaged mental health ambassadors invited from various professions, skill sets, and world-wide locations. Council members charitably support the Council Grants Program, which funds new investigators and new ideas in global mental health research with one-year pilot grants. The first cohort of Council Grants Program recipients began their projects in Fall 2019, and 12 projects have been funded thus far. More information about the Council Grants Program can be found here.

To learn more about the Council or express interest in joining the Council, please email [email protected]

2022 Council for the Advancement of Global Mental Health Research Members

*Denotes membership through the Young Professionals Board

  • Lisa Acker
  • Brandon Allen
  • Spenser Allen
  • Laura Athey
  • Brianna Bailey*
  • Alison Baker
  • Michaella Baker*
  • Martha Barry
  • Estelle Bender
  • Larkin Bernardi*
  • Alicia Bollesen
  • Dr. Zachary Burton*
  • Janel Callon
  • Lorraine Carlson
  • Dr. Robert Connolly
  • Kathie and Peter Davis
  • Laurie DelBene
  • Trish Dunne
  • Mary Edlow
  • Kathleen Feeney
  • Dr. Robert Feldman
  • Kurt Fendler
  • Dr. Tyler Ferris
  • Linda Filardi
  • Jesse Finkelstein*
  • Joel Finkelstein
  • Dr. Michael Franczak and Ms. Christy Dye
  • Mary Ellen Gallagher
  • Dr. Charles Goldstein (Chair)
  • Alexis Gomez
  • Stephanie Guyett (Chair)
  • Kate Hackenberg*
  • Katherine Hall
  • Jennifer Halloran
  • Thom Hamill & Rebecca Hand
  • Jane Miller Henderson
  • Tina Henderson
  • Will Henderson*
  • Karen and Eric Hillenbrand
  • Bonna Horovitz
  • Darcey Huish
  • Jane Hunsaker
  • Mara James
  • Mary T. Johnson
  • Tarun Jotwani
  • D’Anna Keinan
  • Pamela Keld
  • Lea Kassa*
  • Emily Kelkar*
  • Neha Kinariwalla*
  • Edith and Sergey Koyfman
  • Jillian Kuhn*
  • Nikki Levine*
  • Gwen Li
  • Anne-Lindsay Makepeace
  • Mary Marsh
  • Liza Magill*
  • Brady Miller*
  • Bruce Miller
  • Jere Miller (Chair)
  • McKenzie Miller
  • Rebecca Miller
  • Azam and Halley Mistry
  • Lorraine Monick
  • Alice and Jeffrey Morris
  • Josh Mozell
  • Shelly Nemirovsky
  • Liam O'Mara*
  • Conor O’Neill*
  • Ohemaa Poku*
  • Enid Prasad
  • Elizabeth Ramsdell Matte
  • Debra Rahn-Oakes
  • Celeste Rault
  • Kim Reichig
  • Linda Rosenberg
  • Zoe Ross-Nash*
  • Michele Sanford
  • Colleen Scibetta
  • Linsey Scorsby*
  • Linda Semlitz
  • Zoe Siegel*
  • Michal Small
  • Mingyuan Song
  • Debbie Sorkin
  • Linda Spinner
  • Lisa Springer
  • Lesa Stevenson
  • Jenna Watson*
  • Lara Watson*
  • Alana Weinstein*
  • Hilary Wendel
  • Brad Wiener
  • Deidre Wiener
  • Claire Wolstencroft
  • Kyle Wolstencroft
  • Jared Worwood
  • Leanne Worwood
  • Pamela Yurosko
  • Dr. Brooke Ziegelbaum*
  • Chelsea Ziegelbaum*
  • Anonymous (3)

Council Luncheon 2022

The fourth annual Council Luncheon and Meeting was held on April 25, 2022, in a hybrid format where Council Members, Grant Recipients, and Faculty gathered at Columbia University and virtually. The 2021-2022 Council Grant Recipients Dr. Annika Sweetland, Christina Mehranbod, Dr. Rogério Mulumba, and Dr. Jennifer Mootz presented on the impactful nature of their work in Mozambique and Armenia. Matt Kudish, Executive Director of NAMI-NYC, and Dr. Mark van Ommeren, Head of the Mental Health Unit at the World Health Organization Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, engaged in a dynamic discussion around mental health in the context of emergencies, both within the US and around the world. Innovative, Council-supported projects truly make a difference in improving mental health worldwide.

Please see below for a recording of the meeting.


Council Meeting 2021

The third annual Council Meeting was held on February 24, 2021, in a virtual format, bringing together Council Members and Grant Recipients from across the country and all over the world. The 2020-2021 Council Grant Recipients Dr. Ali Giusto, Dr. Lola Kola, Dr. Maria Elena Medina Mora, and Dr. Sandrine Müller, shared updates on their innovative research projects impacting communities worldwide. Dr. Kelli Harding, Columbia psychiatrist and author, joined as a special guest to share the importance of translating social science into meaningful practice. We are immensely grateful for all Council Members for supporting and launching the next generation of thought leaders and researchers.

Please see below for a recording of the meeting.



Council Luncheon 2020

The second annual Council Luncheon was held on February 24, 2020 at Teachers College, Columbia University. The first four grantees funded by Council contributions shared short overviews of their research in the Philippines, Ethiopia, Chile, and among immigrant communities in New York City. These grantees shared details about their interest in global mental health and the impact of their grants, even from small seed funding. After lunch, Columbia global mental health faculty member Dr. Geoffrey Reed and director Sam Feder explained the power of global mental health research to shape advocacy at the intersection of gender and mental health. Dr. Geoffrey Reed presented on his research, funded by small grants similar to the Council funding, that was used to shift gender incongruence out of the Mental, Behavioral, and Neurological Disorders chapter of the ICD-11. Sam Feder followed by showing clips of his film Disclosure, which recently premiered at Sundance Film Festival and showcases the depiction of transgender individuals in Hollywood. Sam and his partner on the film, Amy Scholder, were given the Arts & Advocacy Award from the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health for their use of the arts as a tool for advocacy to fight for the health and mental well-being of all people.

Grant Recipient Presentations:



Council Luncheon 2019

The first annual Council Luncheon brought together Columbia faculty, young investigators, and Council members for a day of learning about the impact of small grants on research. Dr. Rebecca Robles, Dr. Kate Lovero, and Franco Mascayano, all young investigators who have received funding support from Columbia University, spoke on a panel with Dr. Kathleen Pike about the impact of small grant funding on their careers and the future of global mental health.


Graduate Student Opportunities

There are a number of opportunities for students to get involved in global mental health research, training, and advocacy initiatives at Columbia. All of the graduate student opportunities listed on this website are available for students enrolled in a graduate school program at Columbia University.


Global Practica Program

The Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health offers a range of practica experiences that are coordinated with the Center’s on-going general research programs. Applicants MUST be enrolled in a Columbia University graduate program in Psychology, Social Work, Public Health, or Medicine to apply.

The application for the 2022 Summer Global Practica closed on February 28, 2022 at 5pm EST. Applications will be reviewed and interviews will be conducted throughout March 2022.

All questions can be directed to our team at: [email protected] with the subject line “Global Practica _ Question”


2021 Global Practica Students

2020 Global Practica Students


2019 Global Practica Students


2018 Global Practica Students


2017 Global Practica Students

Student Opportunities During the School Year

During the school year, the Columbia University Seminar Series on Global Mental Health invites scholars and community leaders to speak about their work in the global mental health field.

All upcoming University Seminars and other relevant events can be viewed on the Calendar page.

Individuals can subscribe here to receive email reminders for upcoming Seminars.


Courses and Programs

There are opportunities for graduate students at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Teachers College to take courses and join programs related to global mental health. Please check the official course directory for each Columbia school to confirm current registration availability for courses listed below.


Mailman School of Public Health Master’s Program and Courses

Master’s Program

Students applying to any of the department disciplines of the MPH program, other than Biostatistics, can apply for the Certificate in Global Health program at the time of application to the school. Directed by Dr. Anne Paxton, this Certificate program offers students coursework and practical experience — including a required six-month overseas practicum — that will prepare them for a career in the global health arena. Individuals interested in pursuing postgraduate education and training in Global Mental Health should consider pursuing an MPH with a Certificate in Global Health. Get more information about this program here.

Students who are in the Epidemiology discipline of the MPH program might also be interested in the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training (PET) Program led by Global Mental Health Steering Committee member Dr. Ezra Susser, which encompasses topics in global mental health.


Graduate Courses in Global Mental Health

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

Priorities in Global Mental Health (Spring Semester)

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.
Get more information about this course here.


Mental Health Policy (Fall Quarter 2)
Instructor: Kathleen Pike, PhD
This course provides 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.
Get more information about this course here.


Mental Health Policy in the Global Context (Spring Quarter 1)
Instructor: Kathleen Pike, PhD
This course provides an overview of critical policy issues impacting mental health and mental illness worldwide and explores how mental health policy can improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.  Historically, the global health agenda has prioritized communicable and non-communicable 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. This course will take a case study approach to examining broad principles and specific experiences related to mental health policy in different context. Through critical readings of current literature, class discussions, small-group projects, and writing assignments, students in this course will have the opportunity to learn about strategic priority issues in the field and critically examine policy initiatives aimed at promoting mental health and reducing the burden of mental illness around the globe.

Get more information about this course here.


Psychosocial and Mental Health Issues in Forced Migration

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.

Get more information about this course here.


Teachers College Master’s Program and Courses

Master’s Program

Individuals interested in the specific strategies related to clinical approaches and evidence-based treatments in low-resource communities, should consider pursuing a more clinical track through the MA program in Psychology and Education offered through the Department of Clinical & Counseling Psychology at Columbia’s Teachers College (TC). Students enrolled in the General Track (PsyG) of this MA program can elect to concentrate their studies in the closely related fields of Global Mental Health & Trauma. The Global Mental Health & Trauma concentration is under the direction of Dr. Helena (Lena) Verdeli and Dr. George Bonanno, who lead the Global Mental Health and Trauma labs at TC, respectively. Get more information about this program here.


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.

Introduction to Global Mental Health (Fall Semester)

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 information about this course here.


The COVID-19 HEalth caRe wOrkErS (HEROES) study is an ongoing, global initiative, aimed at evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of clinical and non-clinical health-care workers in more than 20 countries. HEROES was originally conceived, developed, and scaled by a team of early career collaborators mentored by Drs. Ezra Susser at Columbia University and Rubén Alvarado at the University of Chile. The study is still mostly driven by these collaborators, many of whom are from or live in LMICs. Our team approach is based on cooperative leadership and mutual learning principles, which, we believe, has contributed to creating a truly collaborative and friendly relationship between investigators from the South (Latin America, Africa, and Asia) and the North (the US, Europe). For instance, most of our research materials (e.g., web-based survey, study protocol) have been designed, translated, and adapted almost simultaneously in all the participating countries and close partnership between LMIC and HIC teams. The bulk of this work has been done by young investigators, who are more likely to establish horizontal relationships, which would have been difficult to achieve in a more standard research setting. We believe that this unusual but highly valuable arrangement contributes to reimagining the South-North collaborations and transforming the usual power structures and practices in Global Mental Health.

If interested in this program, please contact Franco Mascayano ([email protected])


  • Mascayano F, van der Ven E, Moro MF, Schilling S, Alarcón S, Al Barathie J, Alnasser L, Asaoka H, Ayinde O, Balalian AA, Basagoitia A. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of healthcare workers: study protocol for the COVID-19 HEalth caRe wOrkErS (HEROES) study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2022 Jan 22:1-3.
  • *Rivera-Segarra E, *Mascayano F, Alnasser L, van der Ven E, Martínez-Alés G, Durand-Arias S, Moro MF, Karam E, Hernández-Torres R, Alarcón S, Ramos-Pibernus A. Global mental health research and practice: a decolonial approach. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2022 Apr 7.
  • Tenório Correia Silva A, Mascayano F, Valeri L, de Medeiros Junior E, Pimenta e Souza M, Ballester D, Tavares Cavalcanti M, Martínez-Alés G, Moro MF, van der Ven E, Alvarado R, Susser E. COVID-19 pandemic factors and depression among primary care workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil. American Journal of Public Health.
  • Mediavilla R, Fernández-Jiménez E, Martínez-Alés G, Moreno-Küstner B, Martínez-Morata I, Jaramillo F, Morán-Sánchez I, Minué S, Torres-Cantero A, Alvarado R, Ayuso-Mateos JL. Role of access to personal protective equipment, treatment prioritization decisions, and changes in job functions on health workers’ mental health outcomes during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2021 Dec 1;295:405-9.
  • Paniagua-Avila, A., Ramirez-Flores, D., Barrera-Perez, A., Calgua-Guerra, E., Castro, C., Peralta-Garcia, A., Mascayano, F., Susser, E., Alvarado, R., Puac-Polanco, V. Mental health of Guatemalan health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Journal of Public Health, in press.
  • Mediavilla R, Fernández-Jiménez E, Andreo J, Morán-Sánchez I, Muñoz-Sanjosé A, Moreno-Küstner B, Mascayano F, Ayuso-Mateos JL, Bravo-Ortiz MF, Martínez-Alés G, COVID T. Association between perceived discrimination and mental health outcomes among health workers during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Revista de Psiquiatria y Salud mental. 2021 Jun 18.
  • Alvarado R, Ramírez J, Cortés M, Aguirre J, Bedregal P, Allel K, Tapia-muñoz T, Burrone MS, Cuadra-Malinarich G, Goycolea R, Mascayano F. El impacto de la pandemia de COVID-19 en la salud mental de los trabajadores de la salud en Chile: datos iniciales de The Health Care Workers Study. [Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of healthcare workers in Chile: preliminary results from The Health Care Workers Study]. Revista Médica de Chile. 2021 Aug;149(8):1205-14.
  • Czepiel D, Hoek H, van der Markt A, Rutten B, Veling W, Schirmbeck F, Mascayano F, Susser E, van der Ven E. The Association Between Exposure to COVID-19 and Mental Health Outcomes Among Healthcare Workers. Frontiers in Public Health.
  • Moro MF, Calamandrei G, Poli R, Mattei V, Perra A, Kurotschka PK, Restrepo A, Romano F, La Torre G, Preti E, Mascayano F, Picardi A, Chiarotti F, Rapisarda V, Urban A, Alvarado R, Susser E, Carta MG. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of healthcare workers in Italy: Analyzing the role of individual and workplace-level factors in the reopening phase after lockdown. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  • Mediavilla R, Fernandez-Jimenez E, Martinez-Morata I, Jaramillo F, Andreo-Jover J, Moran-Sanchez I, Mascayano F, Moreno-Kustner B, Minue S, Ayuso-Mateos JL, Bryant RA. Sustained negative mental health outcomes among healthcare workers over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Public Health.


Addressing sexual trauma in the context of HIV care is essential to improve clinical outcomes and mental health among women in South Africa. Women represent nearly two-thirds of the South African HIV epidemic, and they report disproportionately high rates of sexual trauma, which negatively impacts their mental health and may lead to avoidant coping behaviors. The psychological effects of trauma can adversely impact retention in HIV care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), which may in turn reduce viral suppression and increase the risk of HIV transmission to others. HIV care engagement may be particularly challenging in South Africa, where women face dual epidemics of HIV and sexual violence, with limited access to mental health treatment. In this setting, interventions that address barriers to effective HIV care engagement and improve health outcomes across the care continuum are urgently needed.

The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of ImpACT+ (Improving AIDS Care after Trauma+), an individual-level intervention based on theories of stress and coping, on clinical outcomes among HIV-infected women with sexual trauma. Secondary objectives include determining whether reductions in traumatic stress and avoidant coping mediate intervention effects on clinical outcomes, and assessing potential for scalability and full-scale implementation.

ImpACT+ was developed and culturally adapted to the South African context, targeting women who are newly initiating ART to make use of a window of opportunity in HIV care and maximize impact on care engagement.

The proposed five-year study seeks to rigorously evaluate ImpACT+, using a hybrid effectiveness-implementation design (Hybrid Type I), with three specific aims: (1) evaluate the effectiveness of ImpACT+ on viral suppression, ART adherence, and HIV care engagement; (2) assess the degree to which reductions in PTSD symptoms and avoidant coping mediate intervention effects; and (3) explore potential for scalability and full-scale implementation. The trial will enroll 350 women who have newly initiated ART and have a history of sexual trauma and elevated traumatic stress. Participants will be randomized to the ImpACT+ intervention condition (six weekly sessions, with six maintenance check-ins over the 12-month follow-up period) or the control condition (three weekly sessions of Problem Solving Therapy (PST)). All participants will complete a baseline assessment at enrollment (within four months of initiating ART), with additional behavioral assessments and viral load testing at 4-month, 8-month, and 12-month follow-up. ART adherence will also be assessed using dried blood spot (DBS) biomarkers, and care engagement data will be extracted from medical records at the end of the study period.

This study is one of the first full-scale trials of a trauma-informed intervention on clinical outcomes for HIV-infected women. If effective, ImpACT+ will fill a critical void in evidence-based trauma interventions in this setting and combat the drop-off across the HIV continuum of care in South Africa, as well as inform such approaches in the U.S. and globally.

For more information about ImpACT+, please contact:

Aisha King: [email protected]

Kathleen Sikkema: [email protected]