Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series: Expanding Access to Mental Health


Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:00am to 11:00am


Virtual Event - Details Below

October 28 - Expanding Access to Mental Health

Updated October 28 Webinar Poster

The Lancet Global Health concluded that mental health is underserved in Africa. Researchers tend to neglect African populations in studies about mental health, service providers on the continent are insufficient to meet the needs of the population, and many countries lack a mental health strategy. The COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing healthcare and economic consequences have only added to global mental health concerns as individuals grapple with social isolation, loss of income and livelihoods, and illness or death in their families and communities. The panel will explore the challenges for mental health in Africa, the related research, and possible solutions for expanding access to mental health services.



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  • Dr. Florence Baingana is the WHO Africa Regional Advisor for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and a research fellow at Makerere University School of Public Health.  Previously she was the National Mental Health Coordinator in Uganda and also worked at the World Bank in Washington DC, doing analytic activities, knowledge management, operations and partnership activities. Her goal is to strengthen mental health policy, planning and financing in sub Saharan Africa.
  • Karestan Koenen is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She studies why some people develop PTSD and related mental and physical health problems, is the co-PI of the AURORA study - a major national research initiative to improve the understanding, prevention, and recovery of individuals who have experienced a traumatic event, and co-leads the PTSD working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.
  • Vikram Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an adjunct professor and joint director of the Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries at the Public Health Foundation of India, honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where he co-founded the Centre for Global Mental Health in 2008, and is a co-founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO which won the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008.
  • Moderated by Shekhar Saxena. Shekhar Saxena is Professor of the Practice of Global Mental Health at the Department of Global Health and Population at the Havard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. A psychiatrist by training, he has served in the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1998. From 2010 to 2018 he was the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO. In 2017, he received the prestigious Leon Eisenberg Award from Harvard Medical School. Author of more than 300 academic papers, he functioned as an editor of the Lancet Series on Global Mental Health 2007 and 2011, and the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development 2018. His expertise includes providing advice and technical assistance to policy makers on prevention and management of mental, developmental, neurological and substance use disorders and suicide prevention.


The Harvard University Center for African Studies in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is hosting a series of webinars on the topic of COVID-19 and Africa. Held each Wednesday for one hour from 10am EST, CAS’ Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series will bring together the private sector, policy makers, academics, and practitioners for a series of conversations across health, technology, and economy, among others. Please check  our COVID-19 Resources page for upcoming webinars and recordings of previous webinars. Join our weekly newsletter to receive updated information.


7:00AM PDT 
10:00AM EDT 
3:00PM WAT
4:00PM CAT 
5:00PM EAT 

Upcoming Webinars:


ORGANIZERS: Harvard Center for African Studies & Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention