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Mental illness is a major contributor to the burden of disease worldwide, accounting for 37% of healthy life years lost from Noncommunicable Diseases (WHO, 2010). The 2010 Global Burden of Disease study prepared by a team of scholars from Harvard School of Public Health and World Economic Forum found that mental illnesses cost the global economy around $2.5 trillion a year, and this loss is expected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030. Mental illnesses are also risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. So, the true costs of mental illness might be even higher. 

Given the evidences that show the dramatic effects of mental illnesses, there is heightened awareness globally to increase its diagnosis and management. Yet, one of the biggest challenges in bringing mental health programs to be adopted in the community level is the persistent and harmful stigma about illnesses among families and communities. Such misperceptions about mental health can result in social restrictions, delay in treatment, poor quality of life, and even low self-esteem (Girma et. al 2014). 

To discuss the challenge of the reducing mental health stigma, GHDonline is pleased to welcome the following group of panelists who will share current and past efforts to address this critical issue:

• Helen Christensen, PhD – Chief Scientist and Director of the Black Dog Institute
• Samuel Law, MD, FRCP(C) – Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto
• Rupinder Legha, MD – Psychiatrist/Pagenel Fellow at Zanmi Lasante and Partners in Health; Research Fellow in Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
• Lisa Smusz, MS, LPCC – Founder of Smusz & Associates Consulting Services; Instructor at California State University, East Bay
• Tatiana Therosme, BA – Psychologist and Mental Health Community Health Worker Supervisor at Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
• Graham Thornicroft, PhD – Professor of community psychiatry at King's College London

AuthorLisa Smusz