OUR FOUNDING STORY
In 2017, our Founder Elisha London became aware of the need for greater action on mental health globally as the level of global investment in mental health was so low, yet the global need was increasing. So, she went in search of an organisation that was working on global campaigning, advocacy and financing for mental health around the world.
There wasn’t one.
She asked our Co-Founders Sarah Kline and Zander Woollcombe, both global experts in creating significant impact for social causes at a global level for their views on what needed to be done, and their support.
Together, they understood the need for coordinated effort, so together they founded United for Global Mental Health.
They began by consulting experts around the world on what was needed, and how that could be achieved.
They discovered the inspirational initiatives, driven by passionate campaigners for better mental health around the world, and listened to what would help them create change.
They listened to the many heartbreaking stories from those who had suffered mental ill health, and the truth about how little was being done to address this crisis by international leaders.
And they spoke to the business community about what could be achieved in the workplace to prevent mental ill health, as well as working with economists to identify the case for unlocking human potential lost through ill health.
Since then, UnitedGMH has brought a movement for global mental health together, with one shared vision for 2030: A world in which everyone everywhere has someone to turn to when their mental health needs support.
Founder and CEO
In 2013, Elisha suffered a trauma and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. While she received the support and treatment she needed to recover, she recognised most don’t, and set about using her wealth of experience in international campaigning to propel the world into action. In 2018, alongside her founding team, partners and advisors from around the world, she launched United for Global Mental Health.
Co-Founder and Deputy CEO
From 2012 to 2017, Sarah worked with and for the WHO. She saw first hand the impact of poor mental health on individuals and communities. Having fundraised for WHO on mental health, Sarah was inspired to help develop and launch United for Global Mental Health. She has also worked for the World Bank, British Government, Oxfam GB and launched and ran another charity, Malaria No More UK.
Celeste has an MBA and over 10 years of experience supporting the effective use of private capital for the public good. She recently relocated to London from her hometown of Seattle, USA where she was the founding lead of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition. In addition to experience as an entrepreneur, Celeste has also worked at Pivotal Ventures and for many years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Director of Global Campaigns
Anush is an advocate and campaigner with 15 years experience in gender equality, youth empowerment, human rights and migration. She has led up the advocacy department at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and previously worked in UNDP and ILO in regional programmes covering Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and countries in Central Asia. She believes in the power of connecting people to speak out against injustices and hopes to bring her skills to amplify the voices of people with lived experience. Anush is Armenian and speaks 3 languages.
Country Campaigns Manager
Faty Kane is a passionate campaign leader with a record of successfully driving change at community, national and international levels. She has extensive experience of working with youth, women and community-based groups in her previous roles with Actionaid, Plan International and Girls Not Brides. She has worked with victims of child marriage, domestic violence and conflicts, and has witnessed first-hand how poorly mental health is dealt with when stigma, myths and ignorance go unchallenged. She speaks four languages including French and brings a fresh perspective on the issue.
Policy and Advocacy Manager
James joined UnitedGMH from Save the Children where he led global health financing policy and advocacy, and previously established Transparency International’s health sector anti-corruption programme. James began his career in public financial management and governance at Crown Agents after working on vaccine surveillance for The World Health Organisation. James has worked across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Co-Founder and Consultant
Having seen people close to him affected by mental health issues, Zander was excited to develop and launch United for Global Mental Health. With over 20 years experience on campaigns and advocacy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bono’s ONE Campaign, Comic Relief, Global Citizen, Oxfam, David Cameron, Amnesty and Peace Child International, Zander is keen to help global mental health get the attention it deserves.
Corporate Account Manager
Kuljit is an experienced account manager with a background across both the private and charity sectors with a particular focus on corporate responsibility and social impact. He is a keen advocate of the role of businesses in creating positive social change and passionate about helping them to achieve impact. In his time at the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), he worked with businesses across sectors including insurance, utilities and oil and gas to operationalise global philanthropic programmes.
Senior Campaign Officer
Victor is the founder of Nigeria's and one of Africa’s largest user-led youth mental health network, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative; with over 1500 active volunteers and chapters in 15 out of 36 states in Nigeria. Victor is the Nigerian representative for the Global Mental Health Peer Network as well as the Nigerian lead for the United for Global Mental Health’s country led advocacy and policy campaign – Speak Your Mind, and has been involved with the drafting of Nigeria’s new mental health legislation as well as integrated mental health into the adolescent and youth health policy of the federal ministry of health in Nigeria.
Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer
Amy has previously worked in policy and advocacy for a variety of international development NGOs including Childreach International, UNICEF, WaterAid and SEED Madagascar. She has seen first hand the impact that a lack of mental health support has on individuals and is passionate about working to ensure that everyone everywhere can access the support they need.
Having worked on Indigenous mental health services in Australia, mental health policy research in Tanzania and anti-stigma research with War Child. Erica is passionate about making mental healthcare affordable, accessible and of high quality for all. She holds an MSc in Global Mental Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London.
Business Campaign Officer
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ben has a strong background in mental health. As President of the York Students' Union he successfully lobbied for a £500k injection into student mental health services. At Mind he helped develop Mental Health at Work, a groundbreaking website for employers. His own lived experience drives his passion to create change.
Policy and Advocacy Officer
Having volunteered with health care services in Liberia and Malawi, Anna witnessed first hand how minimal mental health services are in many developing countries. She recently graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in International Development.
Ana María Heilbron
Born and raised in Colombia, Ana has a background in social communications, audio-visual media and cultural management. Back home, Ana worked as comms manager at the Friends Association of Colombia's National Museum, and she volunteered teaching children displaced by Colombia's armed conflict. She also lived for a year in Berlin, where she worked in the Colombian Embassy. Ana moved to London in 2016, where she has worked as research assistant in King's College in a study about anti-microbial resistance, among other roles. While in London, Ana also did a MA in Visual Sociology.
Julia is passionate about communications for social impact and has experience working for a number of social enterprises and international NGOs. She has a BA in International Relations, during which she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Beijing and Pristina and last year completed her MSc in Gender Studies and Media and Communications at LSE.
Executive Assistant and Development Coordinator
Nikita is an experienced Executive Assistant and has been working in admin for the past 4 years. She previously worked as a Personal Assistant in financial services and as an Executive Assistant in the healthcare industry. She has also volunteered over the years with a number of charities including Cancer Research UK, Children in Need, Macmillan Cancer Support and White Ribbon UK. Nikita has a true passion when it comes to the topic of mental health, specifically removing the stigma around it, she hopes to help provide a platform to enable people to speak comfortably about the issues they are facing.
Divya is an experienced Operations Assistant with a background in social science research. She holds an MA in International Security from Warwick University where she led and supported research projects on topics including: ‘generational trauma,’ ‘justice and equity,’ and ‘intergenerational ethics’. She has witnessed first-hand the implications that cultural stigmas around mental health can have on entire communities. She is passionate about driving meaningful conversations about mental health to help produce social change on a global scale.
Samantha is a Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills law firm and Co-Chair of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Ability Network. Alongside her legal career, Sam is a mental health mentor and has spoken extensively about her own experiences and the importance of raising awareness around mental health in the workplace.
Colombian/Swiss by heritage, Natasha manages a private portfolio of investments, including impact investments and philanthropic endeavours. She serves on both the steering committee of the NextGen Impact Leadership Accelerator program at the University of Zurich as well as the advisory committee for The Conduit social membership club’s impact fund.
Neelesh is currently Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Group Chief Executive at HSBC Holdings Plc. Neelesh has been with the HSBC Group since 1989 and has undertaken leadership roles in Latin America, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mauritius, India and the UK. His extensive experience in Financial Services has encompassed Banking Operations, Internal Audit, Human Resources, Strategy and Planning, Credit and Operational risk management, Securities Custody & Clearing, Trade Services and Retail Branch Management. Neelesh is a Trustee of Blind Veterans UK, a charity that supports ex-service men and women overcome sight loss and The 88 Foundation, a private charity established for general charitable purposes.
Sir Ian Cheshire
Sir Ian is a British businessman leading efforts on global mental health in the private sector. He is Chairman of Barclays UK and the Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Professor Graham Thornicroft
Professor Thornicroft is a pre-eminent psychiatrist, professor and global mental health practitioner. As an expert in the field, he writes about global mental health practice and stigma reduction and chaired the WHO mhGAP guidelines.
Alan Court is Senior Advisor to the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria. Before joining the UNSE office, Mr Court was the Director of the UNICEF Programme Division and had previously been posted in Latin America, Africa and South Asia. As the Director of the UNICEF Programme Division, he led the division’s strategy development, programme guidance and implementation processes and was responsible for seeing UNICEF’s programs were focused on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.