The WPA Working Group (WG) on Digitalisation in Mental Health and Care is aiming for a worldwide contribution to digitally supplement, support and improve mental health and care (e-Mental Health (e-MH)) in the interest of fulfilling WPA’s Action Plan 2020-2023. Through education and training, knowledge acquisition and research, adequate creation and skilled use of new health technologies and programs, capacity building, (public) mental health and care shall be upscaled.
Digital mental health and care literacy, acceptance and accessibility across WPA member countries should be improved both on the public, governmental, provider and professional level. This is a prerequisite for successful promotion and implementation of best quality e-MH tools and programs for self-management, prevention, early recognition and intervention, treatment and care, helping to close gaps of routine care, and providing universal coverage.
At the same time, this initiative will be serving to strengthen the role of psychiatry and its workforce in a diverse field of mental health and care by improving professional collaboration in the best interest of people with a risk for or manifestation of mental illness, developing their empowerment and contributing to reducing stigma and discrimination.
To achieve these goals, the WG and its Subgroups (SG) will cooperate with each other and all relevant components of WPA, including the other Action Plan Working Groups.
Terms of Reference (ToR) for this Working Group include:
Develop, run, analyse and translate a survey on the status of e-MH&C in WPA member countries.
Adopt or develop evidence-based guidance for a scientifically sound, safe and ethical indication and use of eMH tools and programs.
Supervise and impact on the revision of the WPA Position Statement on e-MH&C.
Promote literacy and develop education and training tools on MH&C for the psychiatric work force.
Adopt or adapt and promote, disseminate and implement policies on e-MH&C
Check for international research calls in the field of the working group for collaboration and possible application
Publish concepts, methods, results, reports or other issues of the above activities in digital or print format
Working Group Leadership Team
Chair: Wolfgang Gaebel
Univ. Prof. med.
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
WHO Collaborating Centre on Quality Assurance and Empowerment in Mental Health DEU-131
LVR-Klinikum Düsseldorf Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Heinrich Heine University
Co-Chair - Prof. Umberto Volpe
Secretary - Rodrigo Ramalho
Department of Social and Community Health
School of Population Health, The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Upcoming Working Group Activities
In person course: Digitalisation in Mental Health & Care. A world Perspective
Bangkok, Thailand 3rd August 2022
WPA World Congress, Bangkok, Thailand, 3-6 August 2022
This live course will take place in Thailand during the WPA World Congress on the 3rd August 2022. Organised by the WPA Action Plan Work Group on Digitalisation in Mental Health and Care, it will provide an overview of the key principles of digitalisation in mental health and care, covering the spectrum of digital (mental) health technologies (DMHT), programs and use cases. The course is highly relevant to learning how to extend through digital means the field of mental health to all those in need of improved availability, accessibility, and equitability of evidence-based treatment and care.
You can find the course outline here.
Pre-recorded session: Digitalisation in Mental Health and Care
This pre-recorded session will include three presentations. The first presentation, by Prof Dr Wolfgang Gaebel, titled “Policy Guidance on Digitalisation in Mental Health and Care” will focus on the need of policy development and implementation for promoting e-mental health worldwide. The second presentation, by Prof Umberto Volpe, is entitled “Education and Training in Digital Psychiatry”. This presentation will deal with rapid implementation of telepsychiatry during and after the COVID pandemic as well as the need for standardised training curricula for digital psychiatry worldwide. Lastly, Dr Rodrigo Ramalho’s presentation, “Facilitators and barriers to cultural safety in e-Mental Health”, will discuss the importance of designing eMH tools and services in collaboration and partnership with the populations these services seek to serve.
Working Group Activities
As part of the Working Group’s (WG) ongoing efforts to supplement, support and improve e-mental health, Professor Wolfgang Gaebel, our WG chair, was invited to organise a symposium on “Implementing Digital Mental Health Across Europe” at this years’ EPA’s Virtual 29th European Congress of Psychiatry. The informative session was chaired by Professor Gaebel and a representative from the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIA) Europe, Mrs. Nomidou.
Professor Gaebel was joined by a number of important speakers from the field of digital mental health, all of whom are valued collaborators and supporters of the Group’s work. The symposium tackled a range of critical points within this topic, including:
Managing the Challenges in Implementing Digital Mental Health in Europe – presented by: Oyono Vlijter, The Netherlands
The EPA-Council of National Associations in Implementing Digital Mental Health Across Europe: Opportunities and Challenges – presented by: Simavi Vahip, Turkey
The Role of Research in Evaluating and Implementing Digital Mental Health – presented by: Heleen Riper, The Netherlands
The Integrative Function of a Transnational Policy and Roadmap for Action Planning in Implementing Digital Mental Health – presented by: Wolfgang Gaebel, Germany
A summary of the symposium can be read here.
If you would like more information on the symposium, please contact Professor Wolfgang Gaebel directly.
Key Working Group Outcomes for current Triennium (2020-2023)
An update from the WPA Working Group on Digitalization in Mental Health and Care (published in the World Psychiatry Journal - Volume 22, Number 3 - October 2023)
Projects by Working Group (Core & Sub-groups)
Structure, planning strategies and methods:
Build Working Group and Subgroups, recruit members, set tasks:
1.1. Core Working Group:
International experts for digitalisation in MH&C: Overall responsibilities and contribution, task setting and monitoring, goal attainment, results evaluation, reporting; organising meetings and congress attendance
1.2. Subgroups S1-5 (affiliated with WG ad hoc, temporary & task-oriented): member recruitment, task setting cross topics,
collaboration with other subgroups, work groups and other WPA components:
S1: Baseline surveillance on e-MH&C availability, literacy and acceptance in WPA member countries - development, distribution, evaluation, and consequences for implementation
Members: Dr Ahmet Gürcan, Dr Jitender Jakhar, Dr Jibril I.M Handuleh, Dr Laura Orsolini
S2: e-MH&C promotion and implementation strategy in cooperation with NPAs
S3: e-MH&C education and training (tools) for different workforce member groups:
Quality in e-MH&C development, research and evaluation
Guidance/guidelines for e-MH&C indication and use
Members: Dr Renato de Filippis, Dr Muftau Mohammed, Dr Ramdas Ransing, Dr Shreyasta Samal, Dr Ahmed Shaheen
S4: Revision of WPA Position Statement on e-MH&C (with chair and select members of the former Steering Group 2017)
S5: International organisations in partnership with WPA
Activities, Deliverables and Outcomes (cont'd):
2. Run a survey on the status of e-MH&C in WPA member countries (S1) – as an informational basis for promotion,
dissemination, and implementation
Develop a questionnaire (together with the subgroup below)
Distribute among NPA members (and other relevant organisations)
Analyse the results; promote and disseminate conclusions and recommendations (thereby refer to available policies, e.g., the eMEN transnational policy guidance) on the public, practitioners, providers and governance level (S1, S2).
Contribute to preparing the operational basis for global implementation (S2) on the professional, political and consumers’ regional, national, local and institutional levels
Contribute jointly with international partners and country representatives to implementation and evaluate success on the systems, institutional, and individual levels
Choose, adapt or develop tools, activities or programs for promotion, dissemination, implementation and evaluation
3. Adopt or develop evidence-based Guidance/Guidelines (S3) for a scientifically sound, safe and ethical indication and use of
tools for self-management and programs for prevention, early recognition and intervention, diagnostic assessment and
treatment, e.g., blended care protocols, and rehabilitation, based on internet-based interventions, tele-mental health/video
consultations and psychotherapy, mobile applications (apps, wearables) and others (e.g., virtual reality, serious gaming, avatar
development) for the field of mental health and mental disorders across the lifespan.
4. Supervise and impact on the revision of the WPA Position Statement on e-MH&C (S4).
5. Promote literacy and develop Education and Training Tools on MH&C (S2, S3) for the psychiatric work force.
6. Adopt or adapt and promote, disseminate and implement policies on e-MH&C (S2, S3, S5).
7. Check for international research calls in the field of the working group for collaboration and possible application (all).
8. Publish concepts, methods, results, reports or other issues of the above activities in digital or print format (S1, S2, S3, S4, S5).
Timeline - Focus on core group, subgroups, activities, deliverables and outcomes above:
2021:1.1, 1.2, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
2022: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8
2023: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8
Click here to view the Work Group Publication list.