September-October 2018 Vol. 13 No. 5

Meeting of the Panamerican safe messaging working group
Washington, D.C., 5-6 September. – Safe messaging, a key component of suicide prevention, can be defined as best practice for ensuring that public communication about suicide avoids content, images and language that can be stigmatizing or have unintentional or harmful impacts.

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Panama - Commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day
Panama City, 10 September. - Within the framework of World Suicide Prevention Day, Panama’s Ministry of Health, PAHO/WHO and the Social Security Fund (CSS), together with its National Mental Health Program, organized a meeting under this year's theme "Working together to prevent suicide".  "Collaboration" was highlighted as an essential element for effective suicide prevention.

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Trinidad and Tobago - Assessment of non-communicable diseases and mental health

Port of Spain, 11-18 September. - “There is no health without mental health” and “We must measure to achieve” were two passionate statements made by Dr. Claudina Cayetano, PAHO/WHO Regional Advisor on Mental Health, and Dr. Roberta Caixeta, PAHO/WHO Advisor on noncommunicable diseases (NCD) surveillance, prevention and control.

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Brazil – “More Doctors Program” and the importance of the mental health perspective
Brasilia, 17-18 September. - Representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Ministry of Health of Brazil, the State University of Rio de Janeiro and the Embassy of Cuba met at PAHO/WHO headquarters in Brasilia to discuss new studies in the field of mental health and the More Doctors Program.

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Colombia - Workshop on ethnic relevance and the use of the mhGAP Guide
Bogotá, 18-19 September. - To advance in the understanding of mental health problems from the world view of indigenous peoples, and based on Colombia´s experience in the implementation of WHO´s mhGAP, a workshop was organized to define the relevance of adapting the mhGAP Intervention guide and giving it an ethnic perspective. The objective pursued was to analyze methodological alternatives with indigenous representatives and health professionals for the construction of a tool to provide mental health care to indigenous peoples in an intercultural framework.

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Panama - mhGAP training of trainers for Central America and the Latin Caribbean
Panamá City, 22-23 September. – Twenty five professionals from Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic - already mhGAP facilitators, both, face-to-face and at regional virtual courses -, participated in this training of trainers workshop on the new version of the mhGAP Intervention guide for mental, neurological and substance use disorders (GI-mhGAP), launched in 2017.

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San Salvador - IV Central American Congress on Mental Health and Human Rights
San Salvador, 17-20 September. - The Central American Mental Health Network held the "IV Central American Conference on Mental Health and Human Rights," which gathered users, family members and associations from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, together with representatives of the Region´s health ministries, with the aim of sharing the network´s results in the last four years and to strengthen relations and exchange among its members, and with health systems’ representatives and regional human rights organizations.

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Mental health side event at UN General Assembly - “Time to act on global mental health: Building momentum on mental health in the SDG era”
New York, 26 September. - A diversity of global partners gathered at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York to discuss global mental health. The side event took place in the context of the 3rd High Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), during the UN’s General Assembly, in which all UN Member States meet annually to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the UN Charter

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Alcohol side event at the UN high level meeting on NCDS
New York, 26 September. - Hundreds of participants, including heads of state and ministers of health from over 20 countries in the Region, attended the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs. A side event - organized by the International Organization of Good Templars (IOGT) and cosponsored by the governments of Slovenia, Estonia, Sweden and Suriname - covered country challenges in implementing alcohol policies, as well as the latest data from the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol. At the event, WHO also launched a technical package called SAFER, to help Member States implement more effective and cost-effective policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
For more information:

Chile - INEBRIA Conference
Santiago de Chile, 27-28 September. Experts from all over the world attended INEBRIA’s 15th Annual Congress, organized with the support of the Generalitat de Catalunya and PAHO/WHO, and sponsored by the Chilean Ministry of Health, the Chilean National Service for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption (SENDA), and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, to discuss challenges faced in the implementation of brief interventions in diverse settings, contexts and population groups. Guest speakers included doctors Jurgen Rehm, Peter Anderson, Lana Popova and Antoni Gual. PAHO organized two symposia on the status of brief interventions in primary health care settings in Latin America, including prenatal care. Many lectures were streamed and translated into Spanish.

World Mental Health Day 2018 - Young people and mental health in a changing world
WHO, Geneva, 10 October. - Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension, however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.
To access the complete publication, please visit:

PAHO/WHO - World Mental Health Day 2018 celebration

Washington D.C., 10 October. - In observance of World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health, PAHO hosted a virtual seminar at its Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Panama - World Mental Health Day 2018 celebration
In the framework of World Mental Health Day celebration, Panama´s Ministry of Health Mental Health Program and PAHO/WHO, organized a workshop with the objective of offering young people and other participants mental health knowledge and resources to face current challenges and take the appropriate steps for preventing and treating mental health problems that may arise.

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Trinidad and Tobago: World Mental Health Day – Paint the Town Green

“Paint the Town Green” was an event jointly organized by PAHO/WHO Office in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Health and mental health organizations in celebration of World Mental Health Day. It was held at the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain.

Dominican Republic - Training to health care professionals on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
Santo Domingo, 17-19 October. - Three international experts - Lana Popova, Omar Abdul and Christie Petrenko - provided training to health care professionals on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with the support of PAHO/WHO and the participation of Maristela Monteiro, Senior Advisor on Alcohol. About 30 professionals were trained on what FASD is, the estimated prevalence in countries of the Americas, how and when diagnosis can be made, and the management of comorbidities related to various disorders of the spectrum from infancy until adulthood. The Ministry of Health plans to use the training to develop interventions to prevent and enable better identification of cases, so that affected children can be supported and receive related services.

Study on alcohol, drugs and traffic injuries in emergency rooms
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), provided training and support to Chile, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Perú, to undertake a study in emergency rooms on the role of the use of alcohol and other drugs in traffic injuries (drivers, passengers or pedestrians), collecting extensive information, saliva testing and alcohol breath testing from 500 subjects in each country. This information may be useful for the development of alcohol and drug policies related to driving in Latin America, and is the first study of this kind in the Region.
Results are expected for 2019, followed by publications in scientific journals, country reports and a PAHO publication with the data analysis and policy recommendations.

Dévora Kestel to direct WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse 
Dévora Kestel, Chief of the Mental Health and Substance Use Unit at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), has recently been appointed as the new Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization (WHO). She will be replacing Dr. Shekhar Saxena, who has served in this position since 2010.
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Job Opportunity

The Pan American Health Organization would like to announce that the position of Unit Chief for Mental Health and Substance Use of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases is open to receive applications. For more information access this link:

Grade: P5
Contract duration: Two years, first year probationary period.
Closing Date: Dec 12, 2018, 5:59:00 PM
Primary Location: United States-Washington, D.C.
Schedule: Full-time

New WHO guidelines to improve the physical health of people with severe mental disorders
People with severe mental disorders – including severe depression, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia – generally die 10-20 years earlier than the general population. The majority of these premature deaths are due to physical health conditions. Access to comprehensive health services remain out of reach for the majority of people with severe mental disorders.

To help address this inequity, WHO has released, for the first time, evidence-based guidelines on the management of physical conditions in adults with severe mental disorders.
More information
Video Q&A: who are the guidelines for and what do they say?

WHO - Global status report on alcohol 2018
On September 26th, the World Health Organization released the new Global status report on alcohol, with updated country profiles and data on alcohol consumption and harms from around the globe. PAHO published selected information from the Region in its webpage: /hq/ index. php? option=com_content&view=article&id=14679:the-burden-of-alcohol-in-the-americas&Itemid=1969&lang=en
To access the Report: abuse/publications/ global_ alcohol _report/en/

SAFER - New WHO package to prevent and reduce alcohol-related death and disability
The World Health Organization (WHO) released SAFER, a new initiative and technical package that can help governments reduce the harmful use of alcohol and related health, social and economic consequences.
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Editorial Committee: Dévora Kestel, Maristela Monteiro, Claudina Cayetano, Luis Alfonzo, Antony Duttiene, Andrea Bruni, Carmen Martínez,. Matias Irarrabazal, Amy Tausch, Lalla Maiga,  María Florencia Di Masi y Martha Koev. 

PAHO’s Mental Health Bulletin is published bimonthly in English and Spanish.

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