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close this bookPartners for Mental Health - The Contribution of Professionals and Non-professionals to Mental Health (WHO, 1994, 110 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentInternational Council of Nurses - ''The Current Status of Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing and Some Future Challenges''
View the documentWorld Federation of Occupational Therapists - ''Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Care1''
View the documentWorld Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General practice, Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA) - ''The Professional Role of General Practitioners in Mental Health''
View the documentWorld Psychiatric Association - ''The Now and Future Role of Psychiatrists''
View the documentCommonwealth Pharmaceutical Association - ''Pharmaceutical Services to the Mentally III and Mentally Handicapped''
View the documentInternational Union of Psychological Science - ''Psychology and Health''
View the documentInternational Sociological Association Working Group on Sociology of Mental Health - ''Sociology's Contribution to the Study of Mental Health''
View the documentWorld Federation for Mental Health - ''The Voluntary Sector: Passage to Empowerment for Volunteers, Consumers and Advocates''
View the documentNational Association of Psychiatric Survivors - ''Speaking for Ourselves: Former Psychiatric Patients organizing and speaking out''


On 10-11 June 1991 WHO Division of Mental Health organized a consultation to discuss the contribution of different professional roles to mental health. It was attended by representatives of several professional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) related to the mental health field, as well as representatives of consumer organizations.

In the final report on this consultation (Doc.: MNH/MND/91.18) one of its main conclusion is indicated as:

"There was an overall impression that when we talk about roles in mental health there are more of common shared roles than specificities, with some variations according to the type of action to be performed, e.g. promotion, prevention, treatment or rehabilitation. The most common shared roles concern inter-personal relationships, counselling and education."

Among the several recommendations put forward by the consultation, there were:

"WHO should:

9. Assemble position papers on the roles of each profession and of consumers, prepared by the respective NGOs, and edit them as a special publication.

10. Distribute copies of the report of this consultation, as well as of the future publication on the same topic to:

a) members of ministries of health and education (who are in charge of manpower and budgets);

b) professional and consumer NGOs; and

c) frontline workers (who are looking for desirable standards, guiding principles and can be very helpful in moving from one stage to another)."

Following Recommendation 9. above, several NGOs were contacted and requested to produce the position paper mentioned therein. An outline was prepared indicating the main topics the position papers should cover. They included:

a) a short description of the profession/role, highlighting the most relevant historic landmarks in the development of the profession/role;

b) past, current and future problems related to the role and to training necessary for acquiring skills specific to that role.

c) main similarities and differences in practising the role in developing and developed countries.

d) prospects for the future of the role.

Despite a clear request from WHO, not all NGOs followed this outline and in a few position papers the situation in developed countries received much more attention than in developing countries, probably reflecting the real regional development of the profession in those countries. However, at least for the role of psychiatrists, a more in-depth discussion of their role in developing countries, in many of which they predominate over other professions, is a situation to be discussed and eventually modified.

Some NGOs produced a position paper which represents their official position (e.g. the International Council of Nurses and World Federation of Occupational Therapists) and therefore do not have an individual author, whereas other NGOs opted for commissioning the position paper to one of their members (e.g. World Psychiatric Association and World Federation for Mental Health), whose name is indicated.

Also, despite all WHO efforts, it was not possible to obtain position papers from every profession relevant to the mental health field (e.g. social workers, neurologists), due to either difficulty in identifying the competent NGO representing that profession or a lack of cooperation from some NGOs approached.

Since, as indicated in most papers, several roles are rapidly evolving and given the time span with which different contributions were made available to WHO, it may be necessary to update the information contained in this document in the near future. In that occasion we hope to broaden the coverage of position papers included, reflecting the changes taking place in the field of mental health.

Comments on this document are welcome and should be addressed to:

Dr J. M. Bertolote
Senior Medical Officer
Division of Mental Health
World health Organization
1211 Geneva 22