Graduate Student Opportunities in Global Mental Health

About The Program

There are a number of opportunities for students to get involved in the research, training, and advocacy initiatives of the Global Mental Health Programs. 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 Global Mental Health Programs at Columbia University offer a range of practica experiences that are coordinated with the GMHP’s on-going general research programs. Applicants MUST be enrolled in a Columbia University graduate program in Psychology, Public Health, or Medicine to apply. The 2020 Summer Global Practica Application is now closed.


2019 Global Practica Students


2018 Global Practica Students


2017 Global Practica Students


Student Opportunities During the School Year

Once a month during the school year, the Global Mental Health Programs host a Global Mental Health University Seminar and a Student Research Group Meeting at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. University Seminars host Columbia and external professors to speak about their work in the global mental health field. Student Research Group Meetings allow interested students to learn about the ongoing work at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Mental Health at Columbia. All upcoming University Seminars and Student Research Group Meetings can be viewed on the “Calendar” page.


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

The Global Mental Health Program works in collaboration with the broader Global Health Program at the Mailman School of Public Health. Students applying to any of the department disciplines of the MPH program, other than Biostatistics, can also 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.


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

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

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.

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

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.