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Open AccessCommentary

The Asia Pacific Disaster Mental Health Network: Setting a Mental Health Agenda for the Region

School of Psychology, Curtin University, Perth 6845, Australia
François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health & Human Rights, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Centre for Victims of Torture, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Division of Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine, CUHK, Hong Kong 999077, China
Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3-7LF, UK
National Institute of Mental Health, Tokyo 187-0031, Japan
World Health Organization Kobe Centre, Kobe 651-0073, Japan
School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth 6845, Australia
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University, Rathmalana 10390, Sri Lanka
Hyogo Institute for Traumatic Stress, Kobe 651-0073, Japan
Child and Community Wellbeing Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6144;
Received: 30 July 2020 / Revised: 20 August 2020 / Accepted: 21 August 2020 / Published: 24 August 2020
Addressing the psychological mechanisms and structural inequalities that underpin mental health issues is critical to recovery following disasters and pandemics. The Asia Pacific Disaster Mental Health Network was established in June 2020 in response to the current disaster climate and to foster advancements in disaster-oriented mental health research, practice and policy across the region. Supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) Thematic Platform for Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management (Health EDRM), the network brings together leading disaster psychiatry, psychology and public health experts. Our aim is to advance policy, research and targeted translation of the evidence so that communities are better informed in preparation and response to disasters, pandemics and mass trauma. The first meetings of the network resulted in the development of a regional disaster mental health agenda focused on the current context, with five priority areas: (1) Strengthening community engagement and the integration of diverse perspectives in planning, implementing and evaluating mental health and psychosocial response in disasters; (2) Supporting and assessing the capacity of mental health systems to respond to disasters; (3) Optimising emerging technologies in mental healthcare; (4) Understanding and responding appropriately to addressing the mental health impacts of climate change; (5) Prioritising mental health and psychosocial support for high-risk groups. Consideration of these priority areas in future research, practice and policy will support nuanced and effective psychosocial initiatives for disaster-affected populations within the Asia Pacific region. View Full-Text
Keywords: disaster; mental health; psychosocial; Asia Pacific; COVID-19; Health EDRM disaster; mental health; psychosocial; Asia Pacific; COVID-19; Health EDRM
MDPI and ACS Style

Newnham, E.A.; Dzidic, P.L.; Mergelsberg, E.L.; Guragain, B.; Chan, E.Y.Y.; Kim, Y.; Leaning, J.; Kayano, R.; Wright, M.; Kaththiriarachchi, L.; Kato, H.; Osawa, T.; Gibbs, L. The Asia Pacific Disaster Mental Health Network: Setting a Mental Health Agenda for the Region. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6144.

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