The Global ‘Mental Health’ Movement – Cause For Concern


This week, we present the first in a series of interviews on the topic of the global ‘mental health’ movement. These interviews will be led by our Mad in America research news team.

In this episode, we interview Dr Melissa Raven, who is a psychiatric epidemiologist, policy analyst and postdoctoral research fellow in the Critical and Ethical Mental Health research group at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Originally qualified as a clinical psychologist, she then worked as a lecturer and researcher in public health and primary health care. Her current mental health research and advocacy is informed by a strong social determinants perspective and a strong critical orientation, which she applies to a range of topics, including suicide prevention, workplace mental health, (over)diagnosis, (inappropriate) prescribing, and conflicts of interest in mental health and the broader health/welfare arena.

On October 10th, 2018, World Mental Health Day, The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development published a report outlining a proposal to “scale up” mental health care globally. At the same time, the UK government is hosting a Global Mental Health Ministerial Summit with the intention of laying out a course of action to implement these mental health policies globally.

In response, a coalition of mental health activists and service-users have organized an open letter detailing their concerns with the summit and report. The response has attracted the support of critical professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers.


  1. I notice a Mental Health Stigma in the General Medical System in the UK.

    Severe Mental Illness is supposed to be more disabling than being blind or in a wheelchair.

    In 2002 the Nhs invented a Severe Mental Illness Register to include ALL people with a Diagnosis of Schizophrenia or Bipolar. The idea being as I see it, that there was no such thing as anyone ‘Getting Better’.

    A person can be put on this Register and tested without their knowledge or consent and this Register is available to any Health Professional.

    My experience is that the querying of SMI Register name inclusion (I abandoned MH treatment in 1984) can lead to targeting, and the categorization can lead to a lower standard of general medical care.

    The UK spends about £100 million on Medical Research with a view towards getting ‘Severe Mentally Ill people’ Better, but when a person does get Well the idea seems to be to pull them back into Sickness.