Global Health and Mental Health Unit

michalopoulos-webThe Global Health and Mental Health Unit (GHMH), led and developed by Dr. Lynn Michalopoulos within the Social Intervention Group of the Columbia School of Social Work promotes research, training and education activities related to health and mental health globally. GHMHU emphasizes assessment, adaptation of psychosocial interventions and implementation science related to the co-occurring issues of trauma, mental health and HIV risk behavior among key-affected populations globally.

Through conferences, research projects and collaborations with global partners, GHMH aims to work with researchers, faculty and students to promote activities that will address the global burden of mental health, substance use and communicable diseases (e.g., HIV) among vulnerable populations.


  • Grant writing for studies on health and mental health globally
  • Research to substantiate larger studies on global health among vulnerable populations in relevant countries/geographies
  • Larger-scale behavioral, intervention, and/or implementation science studies addressing health and mental health among vulnerable populations globally with specific focus in LMIC


  • Brown bag discussions with interested students and faculty at CSSW and other schools at CU and globally
  • Presentations by faculty
  • Mini conferences


  • Develop courses/coursework on the topical areas
  • Develop practical, hands-on learning opportunities (e.g., field education) on the topical areas
  • Expand the global footprint at CSSW and CU specifically related to educational opportunities
  • Capacity building of mental health professionals in global contexts through partnerships with universities in LMIC

    Smoking fish in Mongu, Western Zambia. Photo by Felix Clay/Duckrabbit, 2012

    Banner picture caption: Kafue Flats female fish traders in boat, photo by Alphart Lungu, 2001

One in 4 people globally will be affected by a mental health disorder at some point in their life (World Health Organization, 2015). Low and middle income countries (LMIC) disproportionately have very few mental health professionals to deliver services. As such, access to mental health and substance use treatments in LMIC range from 35% to 50% (Bruckner et al., 2010). We also know that individuals with a mental health diagnosis have an average of 15-20 years reduced life expectancy globally (WHO, 2015). In addition, communicable and non-communicable diseases prevalence rates are increasing among key-affected and vulnerable populations globally. In line with the sustainable development goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages and specifically promoting the mental health and well-being of all individuals and ending the epidemic of AIDS and other communicable and non-communicable diseases, we aim to increase research, training and education opportunities for faculty, researchers and students in these areas. Activities include the following for research, education and training.