Committee Spotlight

Committee Spotlight: UN Taskforce

Karen Hopenwasser, MD

These past months have been busy times for our ISSTD activity at the U.N. On April 29, 2019 we (Karen Hopenwasser, Ariel Lublin and Robert Schwab) participated in a day long activity, Interactive Multi-Stakeholder Hearing on Universal Health Coverage. We submitted a jointly written statement with the Committee on Mental Health on the necessity of universal, trauma-informed mental health care. Though we were not called upon to read our statement it was an opportunity to network and dialogue with others.

Then on June 11, 2019 I spoke at a side panel presentation during the 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Personal with Disabilities). Our panel presentation was entitled Ensuring Access to Community Based Mental Health Services for People with Psychosocial Disabilities – International Standards and Innovative Practices. This was sponsored by the Missions from India and Israel, the Israeli Mental Health Association, ISSTD, and several other organizations. At this presentation I spoke on the concept of Trauma-Informed Mental Health Care. One of the themes I covered was the relationship between Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and later medical and mental health problems. It was another opportunity to network with organizations working around the world and to step up the dialogue about trauma-informed services. There was a genuine excitement in the room discussing the development of trauma-informed services.

Going forward we are preparing for World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2019. World Mental Health Day is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) every October 10th, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The theme for 2019 is Suicide Prevention: Moving Towards Improving Mental Health. Again, we will develop an aspect of the program that addresses childhood relational trauma and suicidality in adolescence and adult life.

Our work at the U.N. is largely guided by the activities of the NGO Committee on Mental health (NGO CMH), a cluster of NGOs dedicated to global mental health care. I have served as a Member at large on the executive committee of the NGO CMH for two years and will serve a second two year term beginning June 2019.

Anyone interested in becoming involved is encouraged to join the NGO CMH here. As a member of this committee I co-convene the Trauma Working Group. We are a growing sub-group of professionals engaged in the advancement of trauma informed mental health care