Presidents Action Plan

ACTION PLAN 2013-2015 
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George N. Christodoulou

President, World Federation for Mental Health






The World Federation for Mental Health has a long history.  It was officially established in 1948 as an evolution of the Third International Congress of Mental Hygiene.  Clifford Beers played a cardinal role in organizing the First International Congress in 1930 to improve mental health treatment, particularly in hospitals.  A second Congress was held in 1937.  In 1947 the ICMH Board decided to evolve its activities into a new World Federation for Mental Health and this happened at its 1948 Congress, when the new organization’s purpose was defined as the promotion of the highest level of mental health “in its broadest biological, medical, educational and social aspects.”


The Federation has members and contacts in many countries and it is the only worldwide advocacy and public education organization in the mental health field.  Therefore it has an obligation not only to survive but also to flourish and accomplish its person-centered and people-centered mission, engaging its diverse constituency of health professionals, service users, families, carers and advocates.


The World Federation for Mental Health works for improvements in the treatment and prevention of mental disorders and for the promotion of mental health.  Improvements in care are urgently needed.    Mental health promotion is consistent with the World Health Organization definition of health and reflects a strong anti-stigma perspective and strategy.




  1. Implementing the Vision, Mission and Goals of the WFMH.
  2. Improving the Federation’s presence in the world
  3. Promotion of education and mental health information
  4. Promotion of ethical principles and practice
  5. Meetings
  6. Scientific activities
  7. Advocacy for the rights of persons with mental disorders
  8. Advocacy for protection of vulnerable persons in the community
  9. Partnership with constituents
  10.  Financial policy and sustainability
  11.  Strengthening of normative instruments
  12. Collaboration with other organizations
  13. Engagement of leadership experience
  14. Enhancing Institutional Communication





Goal 1


Implementing the Vision, Mission and Goals of the World Federation for Mental Health


To act in harmony with:

  • Its Vision

            A world in which mental health is a priority for all people

  • Its Mission

            The promotion of mental health awareness, prevention of mental disorders, advocacy and

              best practice, recovery-focused interventions

  • Its Goals

            -To heighten public awareness about the importance of mental health and gain       understanding and improve attitudes about mental disorders

            -To promote mental health and prevent mental disorders

            -To improve the care, treatment and recovery of people with mental disorders


Goal 2


Improving the Federation’s Presence in the World

By increasing its presence and its visibility, the World Federation for Mental Health serves the following goals:

  • Greater impact of the Federation’s advocacy message
  • Increased membership
  • Enhancement of income


  • Website, bulletin, newsletter, publications in journals, books (e.g. historical context of WFMH), conferences, talks, media, declarations (e.g. the Declaration of Athens on mental health and disasters), press releases
  • Support of the Great Push for Mental Health campaign
  • Galvanize people to accept the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Action Plan
  • Encourage advocacy
  • Support human rights and especially those of persons with mental illness
  • Establishment of a Public Impact Committee
  • World Mental Health Day.  This most influential program should be further developed and promoted.  Confirmation of the existing Task Force composed of Patt Franciosi (Chair), Gabriel Ivbijaro, Deborah Maguire, Elena Berger and George Christodoulou (WFMH President)



Goal 3


Promotion of Education and Mental Health Information

Addressed to professionals, primary care specialists, trainees of mental health professions, users, carers, advocates, vulnerable persons and the general public


  • Websites, bulletin, books, media, courses, formal lectures, articles in journals, videotapes, inter-disciplinary meetings, World Mental Health Day material.  Schizophrenia and Young Adults CD, Mind and Body: Metabolic Syndrome CD; and other educational CDs.
  • Seek funding, seek teachers, select material, dissemination of information (appropriate for each group, and evidence-based), construct appropriate curriculum for each category of recipients, assess outcome
  • Establishment of Education and Mental Health Information Committee


Goal 4


Promotion of Ethical Principles and Practice

Observing and promoting Ethics is sine qua non for an organization of volunteers with humanistic and person-centered goals.


  • Review of concepts and guidelines
  • Collection and dissemination of material, including publications and power-point presentations on Codes of Ethics (Hippocratic codes, Madrid Declaration, Helsinki Declaration)
  • Preparation of a WFMH Code of Ethics
  • Preparation of guidelines for sponsorship
  • Consideration of specific cases
  • Establishment of a WFMH Ethics Committee


Goal 5



Promotion of meetings either organized by the WFMH or supported by it.  Serves basically educational purposes but also advocacy and communication (interaction of leadership with constituents, and constituents among themselves)

Secondary goals

  • Increase of visibility
  • Increase in membership
  • Enhancement of income
  • Production of Declarations and Position Statements, production of website material, books and other publications


  • Identify the geographical areas in the world that are most likely to benefit from the meeting
  • Consider the countries in which there has been no meeting before
  • See to it that the meetings are of high quality
  • Consider the economic factor, especially in times of hardship
  • Adjust the themes and topics of the meeting to local needs
  • Assess outcome of meetings on the basis of set criteria (attendance, evaluation by audience, etc)
  • Establishment of a Committee for Meetings


Goal 6


Scientific Activities

The WFMH includes among its initiatives scholarly activities in support of the goals of the organization.

Members can participate in research projects (for example World Health Organization projects on ICD-11) or translate research evidence into clinical practice thus diminishing the “science to service” gap.  Sections will deal with various aspects of evidence-informed and people-centered mental health.


  • Establishment of sections or interest groups to deal with specific biological, psychosocial or psychological aspects of mental health and their interactions, or with specific situations in the mental health area such as the mental health consequences of disasters, or the mental health of women, or person-centered diagnosis.


  • Evaluation of the activities of the sections should be carried out periodically
  • Inter-sectional collaboration can be established as well as trans-sectional collaboration with the sections of other associations
  • Establishment of a Committee for Scientific Activities


Goal 7


Advocacy for the rights of persons with mental disorders

Persons with mental disorders suffer from stigma and discrimination, poor provision of services (as compared to persons with physical illnesses), they are the first to suffer in periods of economic hardship and in many parts of the world they are treated with ineffective but also inhumane methods.


  • Advocacy for the rights of patients by all available means: appeals to health authorities, internet interventions (e.g. media campaigns), participation in media programs, etc.  These interventions should be evidence-based and should stress specifically that care for people with mental illness is cost-effective.


Goal 8


Advocacy for protection of vulnerable persons in the community

Persons who are biologically, psychologically or psychosocially predisposed, during periods of crisis (including economic ones) are at risk of developing psychopathology.  It is our duty to make people and governments aware of the fact that it costs more (in money and in suffering) to try to bring them back to “normality” than it costs to apply policies of positive mental health (mental health promotion) that will reduce the risk of psychopathology.


  • Support and empower our Prevention and Promotion Program (prevention of mental and behavioral disorders and promotion of mental health)
  • Establish a section on Prevention and Promotion to be linked with the WPA Section on Preventive Psychiatry and other similar structures
  • Appeal to Governments and International Organizations to support the idea of Prevention and Promotion and especially the cost/effectiveness parameter
  • Organize meetings with this theme
  • Collaborate with WHO, the European Union and other similar organizations (there are already such channels of collaboration)
  • Establishment of a Committee for Prevention and Promotion


Goal 9


Partnership with constituents

There is a great need of communication and interaction with our members.


  • Every single constituent should be approached and assisted by the Vice President for Constituency Development and should be asked about its needs and opportunities for collaboration.  We must give something back to them for their support and money.  The least we can give them is to show them that we care and provide them with information (bulletin, website and mailings) to show them that we are still alive.
  • Collaboration with Regional Vice-Presidents
  • Organize seminars in which constituents can demonstrate their achievements and develop interaction with other less developed constituents
  • Establishment of a Committee for Constituency Development



Goal 10


Financial Policy and Sustainability

This is essential for the survival of the Federation


  • Establishment of a long-term policy of cultivating potential donors
  • Ensure that the whole procedure is transparent and that ethical principles in involvement with the industry are observed
  • Review the dues policy (e.g. minimum fee)
  • Obtain income from Regional Congresses in addition to World Congress
  • Develop programs that will generate income
  • Establishment of a Committee of Financial Policy and Sustainability


Goal 11


Strengthening of Normative Instruments

This is a major issue.  The organization cannot function without normative instruments and especially without good bylaws as the current ones are controversial and vague and hence subject to different readings.  We need a radical revision, particularly of the elections section.


  • Review of the Bylaws of other organizations
  • Study of the existing bylaws and other normative instruments like the Policy and Procedures Manual
  • Extensive interaction with Executive Committee, Board members and others
  • Establishment of a Bylaws committee to deal with the above, composed of Gabriel Ivbijaro and Juan Mezzich (chairs), Larry Cimino, Helen Millar, Janet Paleo and Shona Sturgeon.  Sonia Chehil will provide advice.  George Christodoulou will participate ex officio.  The proposals will be presented to the EC, Board and Membership.


Goal 12


Collaboration with Other Organizations

The WFMH should interact collaboratively with other international organizations.

Collaboration with the UN and the WHO is highly desirable as the WFMH is officially linked with them.


  • Support the activities of the WHO
  • Organize joint meetings with other organizations, especially member societies (e.g. Athens meeting in March 2013)
  • Produce joint Declarations, Consensus and Position Statements
  • Promote collaboration with WHO and support the Great Push and the People’s Charter, two programs that along with World Mental Health Day have greatly advanced the visibility of the organization
  • Re-appoint the Chair of the Great Push for Mental Health campaign (John Copeland)
  • Enrich our representation to the World Health Organization and the United Nations


Goal 13


Engagement of Leadership Experience

The past Presidents (and past Board members) of our Federation are a precious pool of wisdom and guidance and they should be involved in the work of the Federation in an advisory capacity.




Establishment of a Council composed of Past Presidents and chaired by the Immediate Past President


Goal 14


Enhancing Institutional Communication

There is a need for close and regular communication, interaction and involvement in the work of the WFMH by all components


  • Each committee, the Executive Committee and Board members must submit a report of their activities every six months.  An annual report will be presented during the World Congress and during one of the Regional Congresses chosen for this function.  Interim reports will be published in the website and the Bulletin.
  • The Executive Committee’s minutes will be communicated to the Board and will be available to the membership.