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Developing a Curriculum in Global Mental Health

Theories and Models in Medical Education


Global mental health is a discipline of growing interest in medical education, aimed at equipping students with knowledge and skills they need to contribute to the provision of quality mental healthcare for all peoples, at home and abroad. Medical education in global mental health can be conveyed at various levels: undergraduate medical studies, psychiatry residency, and other postgraduate programs.

There is a worldwide lack of formal education in global mental health. Furthermore, structured training programs are largely nonexistent and unevenly distributed, with most apparently concentrated in the USA and the UK. This contrasts with the interests of many early career psychiatrists and trainees worldwide, and the potential benefits of global mental health for the communities they serve and the institutions collaborating in its delivery.

This chapter presents theoretical and practical aspects to be considered in developing global mental health curricula in medical education across the world, with the intent of helping to strengthen existing programs and inspire new ones. The first sections discuss the current need for structured training in global mental health across the world, present a framework for curriculum development, and provide the authors’ suggestions for core theoretical contents and skills to be taught.

The final section describes current models according to the frame of the training program: undergraduate studies, psychiatry residency, clinical and research fellowships, and masters’ and doctoral programs. Their challenges, and suggestions for innovation, are discussed. Given the dearth of structured training programs, a short depiction of current extracurricular opportunities is also presented.


  • Global mental health
  • Curriculum development
  • Medical education
  • Early career psychiatrists
  • Psychiatric trainees
  • Cultural psychiatry
  • Implementation science

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  5. 5.

    Personal communication from Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, Ibadan School of Medicine, received on August 9, 2020.

  6. 6., accessed on September 2, 2020.

  7. 7.

    For the sake of space, we cannot include the links for the websites of all the university programs that will be mentioned in this section; readers are encouraging readers to look up their updated information through a standard web browser such as Google.

  8. 8.

    Personal communication from Prof. Crick Lund, University of Cape Town, South Africa, received on August 20, 2020.

  9. 9.

    Our selection of contemporary opportunities is not exhaustive (it is rather mainly based on the experience of the chapter coauthors); readers should look at details and updates about them online.


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We express our gratitude to the colleagues and institutions that provided responses to our survey and queries. We also want to thank Munira Olia, MD, for her inspiration and inputs; to Francisco X. Castellanos, MD, for his thorough revision of the manuscript; and to Daniel Fekadu Wolde-Giorgis, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, for his comments on our manuscript.

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Correspondence to Victor Pereira-Sanchez .

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Pereira-Sanchez, V., Handuleh, J.I.M., Pinzón-Espinosa, J.E., Singh, D.K.M. (2021). Developing a Curriculum in Global Mental Health. In: Okpaku, S.O. (eds) Innovations in Global Mental Health. Springer, Cham.

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