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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 129-144

New frontiers: a view to the future

MD, PhD, is a staff member of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Psychiatry and Global Mental Health at the VU University, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University. He founded TPO, alarge relieforganization in mental health and psychosocial care of (post) conflict and post-disaster populations in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Joop de Jong worked part-timewith immigrants and refugees in the Netherlands. He publishes in the field of cultural psychiatry, public and global mental health, epidemiology, psychotraumatology and medical anthropology

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This final paper first summarises some of the major themes that previous authors have mentioned. The first theme is their endeavour to understand human beings in their ecological context. The second is that they also adhere to a (health) systems approach. The third theme refers to the proposed valuable research developments. This paper then elaborates on three ideas that deserve attention as potential ‘new frontiers’. The first is Network Mental Health, referring to the clinical staging model that may solve a range of problems: a new generation of epidemiological research that accommodates cultural expressions of distress, mitigates response bias, prevents outliers in prevalence rates, increases the cross cultural validity of psycho pathological constructs, opens venues to develop transdiagnostic treatments by non specialists, and that may help to bury the perennial universalism versus relativism debate.1 The second idea is referred to as Community Intervention Capital. Arguing that we need interventions, beneath the primary care level within communities, as the foundations of our public mental health care system and as the crucial source of universal prevention. In low and middle income countries, this involves a wide range of community resources including: healers, teachers, community leaders, extended families and organised religion. Additionally, concerted action of all players could achieve a great deal. The third idea is called Mental Health Mathematics. Mental health professionals are ill equipped for sophisticated mathematical modelling. We need a new generation of research to study causal pathways, robustness and redundancy of interventions in order to improve equity, access to care, life course research, complex health systems and/or stigma related to mental health.

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