War, health epidemics and natural and human-made disasters have forcibly displaced more than 70 million people worldwide — the largest refugee population since World War II. Living in a limbo that could continue for decades, many are so anxious and depressed that they cannot care for themselves and their families, even when food and shelter are provided.
Under founding director Helen (Lena) Verdeli, Associate Professor of Psychology & Education, students, researchers and practitioners at TC’s Global Mental Health Lab (GMH Lab) design interventions and programs using evidence-based psychotherapies to prevent and treat mood disorders. The GMH Lab has played a key role in landmark studies involving cultural adaptation, training, testing and scaling-up of interventions of psychotherapy and related services in resource-poor areas around the world. In many of these settings, the psychotherapy providers are non-mental health specialists (primary care staff, community health workers, etc.).
Personhood is experienced and expressed within the context of community and social roles, so restoring community cohesion is critical for the recovery of the world’s 70 million displaced people. Hope is the necessary condition to recover.
Our students talk about the unique knowledge, experiences, and skills this work has offered them. They witness horror and pain but also deep and raw love for life and enormous desire of people to improve their lives.
The GMH Lab conducts research and builds local capacity to prevent and treat mental health conditions in under-resourced communities around the world. Its workshops and projects involve locally relevant assessment of mental disorders, cultural adaptation and testing of interventions, and scaling-up of evidence-based practices to inform policy. The GMH Lab has worked with, among others, depressed adults in southern Uganda; war-affected internally displaced adolescents in northern Uganda and internally displaced women in Colombia; distressed patients in primary care in Goa, India; depressed community members in Haiti; and war-affected Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
GMH Lab is currently:
The Global Mental Health Lab consults and partners with global agencies, academic centers, ministries of health, and NGOs on building systems of care involving psychotherapy, including the World Health Organization; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon; the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University (Verdeli is a scientific Co-Director); International Medical Corps (IMC); Child Protection in Crisis; University of Cambridge, U.K. & the Policy Research Group; Food for the Hungry; and International Rescue Committee among others.
From Mary Swartz Rose and Lawrence Cremin to George Bond and Joan Gussow, the legacy of many of TC's greatest teacher-scholars is carried on through TC's tribute scholarships.
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