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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Global Mental Health Lab

Lena Verdeli

Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology

Founder & Director, Global Mental Health Lab

Director of Clinical Training 

Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology

 Lena Verdeli is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and the Director of Clinical     Training at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received federal and foundation     funding to study psychotherapy for prevention and treatment of mood disorders. In the   past fifteen years Lena Verdeli has played a key role in landmark studies involving     adaptation, training, and testing of  psychotherapy packages used by non-specialists   (primary care staff, community health workers, etc) with depressed adults in southern   Uganda; war-affected adolescents in IDP camps in northern Uganda and depressed IDP   women in Colombia; distressed patients in primary care in Goa, India; depressed   community members in Haiti; and war-affected Syrian refugees in Lebanon, among   others. She is a member of the Mental Health Advisory Committee for the Millennium   Villages Project of the Earth Institute, a Scientific Advisory Council member of the   American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Scientific Advisory Board of   Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. She received the American Psychological   Association International Psychology Division Mentoring Award and chaired the research workgroup of the Family NGO at the UN. She is currently a technical advisor for the WHO on global dissemination of psychosocial treatments.

Verdeli's research in Uganda was instrumental to collecting the data necessary for WHO to recommend interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) – together with cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medicines – as a recommended treatment for depression. In her words: “IPT is not new; what’s new is our delivery of it and our model of training others to use it. Whether we train laypeople to use IPT with their fellow community members, as we did in Uganda, or train professionals through a systematic national effort, as we’re doing now in Lebanon, our hallmark is to employ inexpensive, feasible and culturally relevant approaches. The work has to be the result of real partnerships on the ground, in which all the players have a voice – including refugees themselves."