World Federation for Mental Health

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The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is an international, multi-professional non-governmental organization (NGO), including citizen volunteers and former patients. It was founded in 1948 in the same era as the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO).[1]


The goal of this international organization includes;

  • The prevention of mental and emotional disorders;
  • The proper treatment and care of those with such disorders;
  • And the promotion of mental health[2]

The Federation, through its members and contacts in more than 94 countries on six continents, has responded to international mental health crises through its role as the only worldwide grassroots advocacy and public education organization in the mental health field. Its organizational and individual membership includes mental health workers of all disciplines, consumers of mental health services, family members, and concerned citizens. At its very outset the WFMH was concerned with educating both the public and influential professionals, and with human relations, with a view both to the health of individuals and that of groups and nations.[1] The WFMH founding document, "Mental Health and World Citizenship", understood "world citizenship" in terms of a "common humanity" respecting individual and cultural differences, and declared that "the ultimate goal of mental health is to help [people] live with their fellows in one world.[1]

Members include mental health service providers and service users. In 2009, the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders, an international network of families of people with serious mental illness, merged with the World Federation. The World Federation has close ties with the World Health Organization. For many years after its founding, the WFMH was the only NGO of its kind with a close working relationship with UN agencies, particularly the WHO. In recent decades, though, a number of international mental health organizations, often limited to members of particular professions, have developed. In varying degree they have filled needs formerly addressed mainly by WFMH.[1] The WFMH envisions a world in which mental health is a priority for all people. Public policies and programs reflect the crucial importance of mental health in the lives of individuals.[1] The first Director General of the WHO, G. Brock Chisholm, who was a psychiatrist, was one of the leaders in forming the federation with the goal of creating a representative organization that could consult with the UN on mental health issues.

The mission of the World Federation for Mental Health is to promote the advancement of mental health awareness, prevention of mental disorders, advocacy, and best practice recovery focused interventions worldwide. Mental health day is celebrated at the initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and WHO supports this initiative through raising awareness on mental health issues using its strong relationships with the Ministries of health and civil society organizations across the globe.[3] Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada.[4]

List of presidents[edit]

  • John Rawlings Rees (1948) - London, England
  • Dr. Andre Repond (1949–1950)
  • Prof. W. Line (1950–1951) - Toronto, Canada
  • Prof. Alfonso Millan (1951–1952) - Mexico, DF
  • Dr. M.K. el Kholy (1952–1953) - Cairo, Egypt
  • Prof. H.C. Rumke (1953–1954) - Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith (1954–1955) - New York, USA
  • Prof. Nilo Maki (1955–1956) - Helsinki, Finland
  • Dr. Eduardo Enrique Krapf (1956–1957) - Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dr. Margaret Mead (1957–1958) - New York, USA
  • Dr. Brock Chisholm (1957–1958) - Victoria, Canada
  • Prof. Hans Hoff (1959–1960) - Vienna, Austria
  • Prof. Paul Sivadon (1960–1961) - Paris, France
  • Prof. A.C. Pacheco de Silva (1961–1962) - São Paulo, Brazil
  • Dr. George S Stevenson (1961–1962) - New York, USA
  • Dr. Phon Sangsingkeo (1962–1963) - Bangkok, Thailand
  • Prof. G.P. Alivisatos (1963–1964) - Athens, Greece
  • Dr. Alan Stoller (1964–1965) - Victoria, Australia
  • Sir Samual Manuwa (1965–1966) - Lagos, Nigeria
  • Dr. Otto Klineberg (1966–1967) - Canada
  • Prof. Morris Carstairs (1968–1972) - Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Prof. Michael Beaubrun (1972–1974) - Kingston, Jamaica
  • Prof. Tsung-yi Lin (1975–1979) - Vancouver, Canada
  • Mr. Gowan Guest (1979–1981) - Esq, Vancouver, Canada
  • Prof. Eugene Brody (1981–1983) - Baltimore, USA
  • Dr. Estefania Aldaba-Lim (1983–1985) - Manila, Philippines
  • Mrs. Edith Morgan (1985–1987) - London, England
  • Dr. Gamal M. Abou El Azayem (1987–1989) - Cairo, Egypt
  • Dr. Stanislas Flache (1989–1991) - Geneva, Switzerland
  • Dr. Max W. Abbott (1991–1993) - Auckland, New Zealand
  • Dr. Federico Puente-Silva (1993–1995) - Mexico DF, Mexico
  • Mrs. Beverly B. Long, Georgia (1995–1997) - USA
  • Prof. Marten deVries (1997–1999) - Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Dr. Ahmed Abou El Azayem (1999–2001) - Cairo, Egypt
  • Mrs. Pirkko Lahti (2001–2003) - Helsinki, Finland
  • Dr. Patt Franciosi (2003–2005) - Wisconsin, USA
  • Mrs. Shona Sturgeon (2005–2007) - Cape Town, South Africa
  • Prof. John R.M. Copeland (2007–2009) - London, England
  • Mr. Anthony Fowke (2009–2011) - Perth, Australia
  • Mrs. Deborah Wan (2011–2013) - Hong Kong, SAR
  • Prof. George Christodoulou (2013–2015) - Greece
  • Dr. Gabriel Ivbijaro (2015–2017) - United Kingdom
  • Dr. Alberto Trimboli (2017–2019) - Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Ingrid Daniels (2019–2021) - South Africa
  • Nasser Loza (2021–2023) - Egypt

Notable members[edit]

Conferences and Congresses[edit]

Event Year Location Theme
World Congress 1948 London, England, UK Founding meeting of WFMH
World Congress 1951 Mexico DF, Mexico
World Congress 1954 Toronto, Canada
World Congress 1961 Paris, France
World Congress 1968 London, England, UK
World Congress 1973 Sydney, Australia Cultures in Collision (25th Anniversary Congress)
World Congress 1977 Vancouver, Canada Today's Priorities in Mental Health: Knowing and Doing
World Congress 1979 Salzburg, Austria The Mental Health of Children and Families
World Congress 1981 Manila, Philippines Mental Health, Cultural Values and Social Development: A Look into the '80s
World Congress 1983 Washington, DC, USA Personal and social responsibility in the search for mental health: Collaboration between volunteers, professionals and governments in the formation of mental health policy and the delivery of services.
World Congress 1985 Brighton, England, UK Mental Health 2000 A.D. [Sub-theme: Action Programs for a World in Crisis.]
World Congress 1987 Cairo, Egypt The Many Worlds of Mental Health
World Congress 1989 Auckland, New Zealand Mental Health – Everyone's Concern
World Congress 1991 Mexico DF, Mexico People and Science: Together for Mental Health
World Congress 1993 Tokyo, Japan Mental Health: Toward the 21st Century
World Congress 1995 Dublin, Ireland Time for Reflection
World Congress 1997 Lahti, Finland Cornerstones for Mental Health
World Congress 1998 London, England, UK Partners for Mental Health: Nations for Mental Health (50th Anniversary Symposium)
World Congress 1999 Santiago, Chile Interfaces in Mental Health: Poverty, Quality of Life and Society"
World Congress 2001 Vancouver, Canada Respecting Diversity in Mental Health in a Changing World
World Congress 2003 Melbourne, Australia Parnerships in Health
World Congress 2005 Cairo, Egypt Equity and Mental Health
World Congress 2007 Hong Kong SAR, China East Meets West: Impact of Culture on Mental Health
World Congress 2009 Athens, Greece Working Together for Mental Health
World Congress 2011 Cape Town, South Africa The African Footprint in Global Mental Health
World Congress 2013 Buenos Aires, Argentina Social Inclusion through Interdisciplinary Interventions
World Congress 2015 Cairo, Egypt
World Congress 2017 New Delhi, India Partnerships in mental health
World Congress 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina Abordajes inclusivos en salud mental. Clínica, comunidad y derechos.

World Mental Health Day[edit]

Year Theme
2017 Mental health in the workplace
2018 Young People and Mental Health
2019 Mental health promotion and suicide prevention
2020 Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access. Everyone, everywhere
2021 Mental Health in an Unequal World. Together we can make a difference


  1. ^ a b c d e Brody EB (February 2004). "The World Federation for Mental Health: its origins and contemporary relevance to WHO and WPA policies". World Psychiatry. 3 (1): 54–5. PMC 1414666. PMID 16633456.
  2. ^ "Home". World Federation for Mental Health.
  3. ^ "WHO – World Mental Health Day". WHO. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health – About MIAW".
  5. ^ "In Memoriam Eugene Brody, MD, BS Med '43 1921–2010". University of Missouri. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2015.

External links[edit]