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Health Policy and Planning

Akwatu Khenti, Stéfanie Fréel, Ruth Trainor, Sirad Mohamoud, Pablo Diaz, Erica Suh, Sireesha J Bobbili and Jaime C Sapag


Developing a holistic policy and intervention framework for global mental health



There are significant gaps in the accessibility and quality of mental health services around the globe. A wide range of institutions are addressing the challenges, but there is limited reflection and evaluation on the various approaches, how they compare with each other, and conclusions regarding the most effective approach for particular settings. This article presents a framework for global mental health capacity building that could potentially serve as a promising or best practice in the field. The framework is the outcome of a decade of collaborative global health work at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) (Ontario, Canada). The framework is grounded in scientific evidence, relevant learning and behavioural theories and the underlying principles of health equity and human rights.


Grounded in CAMH’s research, programme evaluation and practical experience in developing and implementing mental health capacity building interventions, this article presents the iterative learning process and impetus that formed the basis of the framework. A developmental evaluation (Patton M.2010. Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use. New York: Guilford Press.) approach was used to build the framework, as global mental health collaboration occurs in complex or uncertain environments and evolving learning systems.


A multilevel framework consists of five central components: (1) holistic health, (2) cultural and socioeconomic relevance, (3) partnerships, (4) collaborative action-based education and learning and (5) sustainability. The framework’s practical application is illustrated through the presentation of three international case studies and four policy implications. Lessons learned, limitations and future opportunities are also discussed.


The holistic policy and intervention framework for global mental health reflects an iterative learning process that can be applied and scaled up across different settings through appropriate modifications.

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