Uppsala University: Pathways to lifelong mental wellbeing in focus at Uppsala Health Summit

Increasing mental ill health is one of the most urgent public health challenges in the world. The global meeting Uppsala Health Summit, to be held online on 18–21 October, will discuss which preventive measures societies should deploy to better address this troubling trend.

According to the WHO, depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

Experts from various areas of science and practice will come to Uppsala Health Summit to discuss what different sectors can do to offer better preventive care and early interventions for more people, at different stages of life.

“It’s a big topic to tackle at a conference, but our ambition for this meeting is to highlight new knowledge and innovative thinking about interventions that can help us respond to the great mental health challenges facing the world,” says Karin Brocki, Professor of Psychology at Uppsala University, who chairs the Uppsala Health Summit Programme Committee.

“The theme Mental Health is especially relevant now that when so many people are feeling the effects of COVID-19 and climate threats. We need to use the available knowledge about how we can enhance people’s wellbeing and translate knowledge into interventions that reach as many people as possible at an early stage before it has serious consequences for the individual and society,” says Karin Brocki.

The meeting includes plenary lectures that are open to everyone and workshops for invited experts from around the world. The subjects discussed will include the development and use of digital care services and artificial intelligence, the state of knowledge about young people and social media, as well as mental ill health, hormones and parenthood, and how to establish consistency in the use of concepts and definitions.

The speakers include Dr Ledia Lazeri, Regional Advisor on Mental Health at the World Health Organisation, Dr Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Mental Health at Harvard University, and Dr Steven Hayes, Professor of Psychology and founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Professor of Psychiatry Dr Dixon Chibanda will talk about the internationally acclaimed Friendship Bench Initiative, which builds on humanity and empathy. Professor Andrea Beetz from Germany will talk about success factors in connection with the use of animals such as dogs in therapy.

In conjunction with the summit, a report will be launched that has been produced as background for the conversations that will take place.