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Global Mental Health Action Network: Working Groups

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Working Groups of the Global Mental Health Action Network

The Network has several working groups, which allow for more focused collaborative work on advocacy and communications around important thematic areas.

Financing Working Group

Co-chairs: James Sale, United for Global Mental Health and Mathew Mutiso, Nanga Support Network. 

The financing working group was formed in February 2020 to encourage greater global collaboration on mental health advocacy, communications and learning, and to bring together those with a professional interest in mental health or health policy.

The key focus areas of the Finance group include:

Advocating for increased financing for mental health in grants from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, including the full integration of mental health into the next Global Fund strategy (2023-2027).

Advocating for increased mental health financing in grants to countries from the Global Financing Facility (GFF), including the full integration of mental health into the GFF’s strategy for improving the child, adolescent and maternal health.


Creating campaigning and advocacy resources to influence governments at a national level to increase domestic resources for mental health systems. This includes advocating for the decentralisation of government mental health from tertiary or institutional level to primary and community mental healthcare. 

Tracing and advocating for COVID-19 financing to ensure mental health is included in health plans. This includes ensuring people with lived experience are involved in decision making to build back better.

Increasing knowledge of mental health programme financing to have better understanding of what is being funded, and identify information gaps on what is not being funded. 

The group have worked to advocate for mental health financing at the Spring meetings, developing a policy paper making the case for investing in mental health, as well as a guide for advocating to Ministries to invest in Mental Health. 

Financing Working Group members authored an op-ed on Devex on  ‘the critical need for finance to unlock better mental health’, highlighting the need for urgent action and making a clear case for greater investment. 

Members of the working group also developed a briefing on mental health and the role of finance ministries and began a briefing on Mental Health and the Global Financing Facility Strategy Consultation, both of which were submitted to the World Bank.

Youth and Child Working Group

Co-chairs: Ann Willhoite, UNICEF and Peter Varnum, Orygen

The Youth and Child Working Group was established in January 2020, following on from the Leading Minds conference with UNICEF and WHO.

Key focus areas of the Youth and Child Working Group include:

  • Working in partnership with key global youth stakeholders to develop clear global guidelines for how to engage and involve youth advocates.
  • Develop a global coordinating body for youth mental health advocacy and campaigning by setting up a youth engagement group.

Communications Working Group

Co-chairs: Alison Brunier, WHO; Harsha Sharma, United for Global Mental Health; and Natalie Idenhen, Wellcome Trust

The communications working group is due to be re- launched later in 2021. The group will be led by a steering group of communications specialists and will be supported by a wider working group open to all members. 

Key focus areas of the Communications Working Group include:

  • Feeding into, and mobilising around, communications activities for the Network to promote the importance of investment in mental health
  • Providing information, inputs and updates on their organisation’s communications plans and opportunities to collaborate on and amplify upcoming work of the Network
  • Providing feedback on joint communications plans proposed by the Communications Steering Group 
  • Agreeing to help proactively with joint mobilisation around key communications moments
  • Helping to drive individual organisational engagement in coordinated communications activities.

Suicide Decriminalisation Working Group

Co-chairs: This working group is co-chaired by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Mental Health.

The Suicide Decriminalisation Working Group of the Global Mental Health Action Network
has been set up to champion advocacy for the decriminalisation of suicide and suicidal behaviour in countries where this is still criminalised.

Key focus areas for the group include:

  • Developing campaign and advocacy ideas for suicide decriminalisation campaign
  • Developing an advocacy toolkit to support the September report launch including an influencing guide, press release template and template letter to policymakers

Want to join a Working Group?

Become a member of the Global Mental Health Action Network today!