Chinese dignitaries visit Emory to discuss global mental health

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | April 3, 2013

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Kathi Baker
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Professor Yifeng Xu, MD, MS, president of SMHC, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, shown on a visit at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine recently hosted guests from China's Shanghai Mental Health Center (SMHC), to discuss future projects for the Shanghai Mental Health Center-Emory University Collaborative Center for Global Mental Health.

The Collaborative Center, which officially opened in December, is housed on the campus of the Shanghai Mental Health Center. The Collaborative Center was developed to advance joint training and research opportunities at the two institutions, and to create a platform for international multi-institutional initiatives. In light of recent statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that more than 450 million people worldwide suffer from a serious mental illness, the two institutions felt now was the time to begin creating a new global approach for addressing this unmet medical need.  

"By 2030, depression will be the second highest cause of disease burden in middle-income countries, and the third highest in low-income countries," says Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, Reunette W. Harris Chair and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "Thus, interventions must be developed that can successfully be applied in countries with widely different cultures and resources. Such a center is an ideal nexus for the research and training necessary for such endeavors."

Visitors to Emory included Professor Yifeng Xu, MD, MS, president of SMHC, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Zhen Wang, MD, Director of Research at SMHC, Yeqing Xu, MD, Research Fellow, University of Rochester, and Michael Phillips, MD, MA, MPH.  Phillips is director of the Collaborative Center and holds joint professorships at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, SMHC, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory and the HubertDepartment of Global Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

The first joint project of the Collaborative Center is collaboration with the Indian government and the WHO to improve access to care in that country. It is believed that 7 percent of the Indian population suffers from some type of serious mental illness; out of that 7 percent, an incredible 90 percent do not have access to treatment.