On November 13-14 2018, Qatar hosted the World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH) in Doha.

Nearly 200 delegates attended from a wide range of countries, including health professionals, NGOs, government officials and private sector representatives. Mental health was one of several topics featured at the summit, along with health in conflict settings and the future of nursing.

new WISH report was launched on anxiety and depression by Paul Farmer (MIND UK). The report makes the case for: a whole of health system approach to mental health (including ‘stepped care’), campaigns to tackle stigma and workplace mental health programmes. It also calls on policy makers and funders to include mental health in Universal Health Coverage.

Shekhar Saxena, Joint Lead Editor of the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development joined the WISH report launch and another session on mental health. He shared the findings – and copies – of the Lancet Commission report.

The Friendship Bench project featured very prominently at the Summit, serving as an example in the WISH report and as a means to engage many of the WISH delegates on the issue of mental health.

L to R: Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa, WHO and Dr Hanan Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, Qatar

Having conversations on the bench about the project, as well as how to improve mental health at a local level, helped raise the profile of global mental health among new audiences – particularly those from the region. High profile visitors to the bench included: HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation and Olympic Swimming legend Michael Phelps. WHO Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti and David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), also dropped in.

L to R: Shekhar Saxena, Visiting Professor, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and David Miliband, President, The IRC

Read coverage of the Summit here and visit our Instagram and Twitter pages to see more Friendship Bench photos.