International Mental Health Conference Nepal 2018

International Mental Health Conference 2018 was successfully held at Kathmandu, Nepal on February 16 and 17 with the aim of bringing together institutions, individuals and other concerned stakeholders in a common platform to discuss the development of mental health under the theme “Coming Together for Mental Health”. This conference was organized by Primary Health Care Revitalization Division (PHCRD), Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health in collaboration with several partners and organizations working in the field of mental health.This conference, which was the first of its kind in Nepal, added a milestone for the promotion and development of mental health services.

The conference was inaugurated by Chief guest Dr. Puspa Chaudhary, Secretary of Ministry of Health. Mr. Bhogendra Raj Dotel, director of PHCRD and chair of conference organizing committee, in his welcome remarks hoped that the conference would help the Ministry of Health in preparing an action plan to provide easy access to quality health services through the exchange of experiences with mental health experts and stakeholders. WHO country representative for Nepal, Dr. Jos Vandelaer stated that the mental health Gap Action Programme(mhGAP) was trying to address the gap of mental health services through the community level, however mental health has to be a part of primary health care for the easy access of mental health services to all, for which additional resources and partnerships would be needed.

Similarly, His Excellency Lasse Bjorn Johannessen, Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal said that the momentum for mental health was building in Nepal for which this conference was an important step. Honorable member of National Human Rights Commission Mohna Ansari urged the new government to draft mental health policy as mental health is a very sensitive issue and also urged everyone to be aware of a person’s human rights violation that could happen because of their mental illnesses/problems. Finally, Dr. Puspa Chaudhary closed the formal session by calling for discussion and sharing among key stakeholders who could make key changes in the field of mental health as there was a huge scope to work on community based interventions to strengthen mental health services.

The conference lasted two days with two parallel sessions, focusing on prevention, promotion, treatment and rehabilitation of mental illness by bringing together several keynote speakers from different parts of the world along with government of Nepal, multilateral and bilateral organizations, health professionals, social workers, the private sector, innovators, academic and research institutions, and civil society in the same platform. More than 350 participants attended the conference.

A discourse on the newly drafted mental health policy and a workshop for the translation and validation of English mental health terminologies in Nepali were also a major component of the conference. Similarly, poster presentations and exhibitions displayed in the conference covered topics such as mental health system, depression, anxiety, media, psychological status and problems, use of technology, mental health interventions etc.Best three poster presentation and one exhibition were awarded based on content and innovation. The two day conference was made more interesting through slam poetry, special song by right holders and a drama on mental health.

Out of 34 oral presentations, 40 poster presentations and 10 poster exhibitions, 9 oral, 8 poster and 2 exhibition respectively were from TPO Nepal. Ms. Sita Maya Thing Lama from TPO Nepal was awarded the best poster exhibition titled “Radio program as awareness tools in suicide prevention”. TPO Nepal also represented in the conference through participation in organizing committee, scientific sub-committee, souvenir sub-committee, policy discourse sub-committee, terminology translation sub-committee and hospitality and event management sub-committee.

During the closing session in the second day of the conference, a declaration was unveiled by Honorable minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Tham Maya Thapa. She talked about the efforts of Ministry after the earthquake of 2015 to establish psychosocial centers in 14 affected districts. This project was supported by UNICEF Nepal with the technical support of TPO Nepal. She also committed for support to Ministry of Health in the field of mental health and urged everyone to come together for its promotion and development. Executive Manager of TPO Nepal and co-chair of the conference, Mr. Suraj Koirala appreciated the participation of presenters, speakers, organizers, supporters and thanked all participants for their support and enthusiasm to make the conference a huge success. Finally, Mr. Bhogendra Raj Dotel formally closed the program by acknowledging the responsibility of government after the release of conference declaration and pledged to implement some points of the declaration immediately, within this fiscal year.

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