Defying Convention in Global Mental Health

This session will provide an understanding of the current landscape in global youth mental health, whether listeners are seasoned mental health professionals or new to the field. It will discuss current activities in mental health service provision and research, with an emphasis on non-traditional, community-based approaches to preventing mental ill-health. We’ll talk about our global framework for youth mental health – but equally important, we’ll discuss the process we went through to develop that framework, including participation from youth, families, service providers and others from 50 countries (including Canada!). We will discuss the balance between prevention and treatment, taking care to focus on the need for services to make sense in local context and on the strong link necessary between community-based services and the health system. We will also give an overview of some non-traditional initiatives happening globally and talk through with you how best to get informed and involved.

Presenters and slide deck

Peter Varnum, Associate Director, Orygen Global

Peter Varnum is Associate Director for Orygen Global, looking after Orygen’s collaboration with the global youth mental health community. Prior to Orygen, he built and led the World Economic Forum’s work on global mental health. He also serves as the Chair of the Board of The Stability Network and on the Healthy Brains Global Initiative’s Lived Experience Council. He earned a BA in English from Carleton College and an MA in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and completed the World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows executive education program.

Maddie O'Gradey-Lee, Youth Advisor

Maddie is a lived experience advocate passionate about youth mental health and empowering young people to bring about change to the mental health landscape. Maddi is currently a PhD candidate at University of New South Wales (UNSW) researching childhood anxiety and mood disorders. Maddi runs her own small business, High Tide which delivers lived experience and mental health literacy workshops in school aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental health. Maddi has a diverse skillset that includes entrepreneurship, empathetic leadership and lived experience storytelling. Maddi is a Strategic Youth Advisor for Orygen Global, and previously sat on the steering committee for the Orygen-WEF partnership.

Nataya Branjerporn, Youth Advisor

As a lived experience youth mental health advocate and child and youth mental health clinician within remote Queensland, Nataya is passionate about young people having a voice in the design of youth policy and systems. As a University of Queensland (UQ) PhD Candidate and chair of the UQ Postgraduate Mental Health Student Advisory Council she has developed skills in project management and evidence-based implementation. Nataya has had diverse leadership experience in mental health including sitting on the UQ Mental Health Strategy Board, steering committee member for the Orygen-World Economic Forum (WEF) partnership and as the Brisbane lead for the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the WEF.


Key Learnings

  • Orygen has created and are implementing a global framework for youth mental health, and are working to creating youth fellowship globally.
  • Countries spend just 2% of health budgets on mental health, yet estimates suggest a return-on-investment of $5 for every $1 spent on youth mental health
  • Young people want meaningful participation, inclusivity and youth-friendliness, accessibility of services and supports, family inclusivity, programs that address mental health and stigma, community based solutions integrated into health systems, and technology as a complement (at most) to traditional care.

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