WONCA Working Party: Mental Health

Mental Health

the working party meets in Rio in 2016

Why we need a working party on Mental Health

Our vision is to provide a universal gold standard of care for mental health by empowerment through primary care and in collaboration with all interested stakeholders.

A high proportion of patients presenting to family practitioners suffer from some form of psychiatric or neurological disorder. Many such problems are under-diagnosed. Those diagnosed often present with complex needs that have long term consequences for themselves and their families. Although there may be well-developed secondary care systems to deal with such problems, because of the fear of stigma, many such patients prefer to be cared for by their general practitioners.

Our Mental Health consultancies

WONCA is delighted to offer international consultancy services in primary mental health care, through its Working Party on Mental Health. We worksclosely with WHO and we tailor our consultancy services specifically to support the mhGAP programme.

FInd out more about our consultancies and expert panel here

Convenor / Chair

Prof Chris Dowrick (UK)

email chair

Chris has over 20 years experience in primary care mental health. He is a family doctor and Professor of Primary Medical Care in the University of Liverpool, board advisor for Mersey Care NHS Trust, senior investigator for the English National Institute for Health Research, professorial research fellow in the University of Melbourne and member of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health. He has over 200 research publications, with focus on depression, medically unexplained symptoms and improving access to primary mental health care. He delivers primary mental health care training to family medicine residents in Bahrain. He advises WHO on primary care aspects of new country work with mhGAP, including eastern Europe, central Asian republics and eastern Mediterranean region.

> read more about Chris Dowrick

Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Executive Members

• Chair:
Professor Christopher Dowrick, (UK)

• Vice-Chair:
Professor Christos Lionis (Greece)

• Secretary:
Dr Jill Benson (Australia)

• Treasurer:
Dr Juan Mendive (Spain)

• Regional Vice-Chairs:
Africa: Dr Adekunle Joseph Ariba (Nigeria)
EMR: Dr Abdullah al Khatami (Saudi Arabia)
Iberoamericana: Dr Raqual Vaz Cardoso (Brazil)
South Asia: Dr Pramendra Prasad Gupta (Nepal)
Asia Pacific: Professor Cindy Lam (Hong Kong)
North America: Dr Kim Griswold (US)
Caribbean: Dr Sonia Roache-Barker (Trinidad)

• Secondary care Interface:
Dr Sandra Fortes (Brazil)
Dr Lucja Kolkiewicz (UK)

• Young Doctor representative:
Dr Ray Mendez (US)

Vision and Mission of WONCA Working Party on Mental Health

Mission: To improve mental health and healthcare around the world.

Objectives of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health

  • To serve as a focus to stimulate and promote standards of excellence in the primary care management of mental health, consistent with patient and professional values and with reference to evidence based health care 
  • To promote the concept of mental health & well-being 
  • To promote and develop mental health research activities in primary care & the primary care interface 
  • To hold scientific meetings, which may include sessions and workshops, during WONCA Regional and World conferences, to present original papers and to address broader educational issues through discussion, training and debate 
  • To promote and develop patient information about mental health issues 
  • To develop and promote appropriate literature for primary care professionals using a variety of resources, including WONCA Online 
  • To promote the discipline of primary care mental health world-wide through collaborative working within WONCA, NGO’s, government organisations, patient groups & other medical colleges 
  • To address the issue of stigma associated with mental health difficulties. 



Activity Plan 2016-18

1. Improve WWPMH structures

• Expand membership

• Ensure representation across all WONCA constituencies
      o Regional vice-chairs
      o WONCA Young Doctors
      o Mental health liaison

• Enhance communication between WWPMH members
      o Regular e-meetings for WWPMH officers
      o Regular e-bulletins for all WWPMH members

2. Offer mental health guidance for WONCA members

• Advise Executive and Council of relevant primary mental health issues

• Encourage primary mental health care input to all WONCA conferences

• Enable collaboration with other WPs and SIGs

• Develop task groups on specific topics, including:
      o Core competencies for primary mental health care
      o Shared learning for primary mental health care
      o Non-drug interventions for psycho-social distress
      o Physical health care for people with severe mental illness
      o Management of medically unexplained symptoms
      o Mental health care of migrants (with Migrant Care SIG)

3. Provide leadership on global primary mental health care

• Advocate for improved primary mental health care on behalf of family doctors and their patients.

• Progress the international primary mental health care consultancy.

• Promote external collaborations, including with WHO mhGAP, World Psychiatric Association and World Federation for Mental Health.

• Work with WHO mhGAP team to develop and disseminate an implementation manual for the integration of mental and behavioural health with primary care.



Members of the Warking Party in Cancun in 2010

Relevant Resources


Severe Mental Illness (SMI) resources

Depression - an evidence based first consultation (2017)

Authors: Bruce Arroll, Weng Y Chin, Christopher Dowrick

Integrating mental health into primary care: a global perspective. (2008).

This report provides the rationale and know-how on successfully integrating mental health into primary health care. Readers will find out how providing mental health care into primary health care settings produces better health outcomes, learn from other countries that have successfully integrated their mental health services into primary health care, and discover 10 common principles that underlie all successful mental health integration, regardless of country resource level.
Authors: World Health Organization / World Organization of Family Doctors
Number of pages: viii, 206 p.
Publication date: 2008
Languages: English
Price: CHF 40.00 / US$ 40.00
ISBN: 9789241563680
WHO reference number: WM 140 2008IN

Primary Care Factsheet: Integrating Mental Health Services Into Primary Health Care. (2007) Authors: WHO, WONCA

WONCA Culturally Sensitive Depression Guideline (2004)