PhD Confirmation Seminar: Cultural Adaptation of the WHO Mental Health Gap Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG.v2) for Use in Community-based Healthcare Centres in Shenzhen, China

Room 515, Level 5 207 Bouverie Street

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Centre for Mental Health

T: +61 3 83440908

A mental health treatment gap in a significantly sized working population:- According to Shenzhen’s public psychiatric hospital, 21% of adults are estimated to suffer from some form of mental illness. This is almost five times higher than rates for the general population and in excess of any other major Chinese city. Shenzhen has a unique population demographic and work culture. 80% of its inhabitants are internal migrants who make up an immense mobile workforce. Despite an increasing body of research evidence identifying risk factors and high rates of depression in this workforce, the majority of cases go undetected and untreated.


A national backdrop for health system reform has opened up opportunities for the improved diagnosis and treatment of depressive disorders:- China is introducing a primary healthcare network to act as a filter to the predominantly hospital-based system. Recent policy directives recognize for the first time the burden of Common Mental Disorders on the community and appoint primary care clinics as key sites for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders.


The availability of a globally-recognized and evidence-based tool (mhGAP-IG) to assist with assessment and treatment decisions for depressive disorder:- This tool, designed specifically for non-specialists working in resource poor settings, has the potential to be adapted for use in China. General principles from translational research and findings from the contextualization and adaption of mhGAP-IG in other second income countries provide good models to support the adaptation process.

Strong local leadership and early adopters of new treatment practices are willing to collaborate:-The Monash-Shenzhen Primary Care Leadership Programme is an international training partnership with a growing physician-team committed to improving mental health outcomes in their local clinics. The agents of change and future implementers of mhGAP-IG are ready for action.

Kendall Searle is a PhD student at the Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne. She has a masters in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Kendall has worked in both commercial and academic research environments in the UK, USA and China. She is an advocate for translational research and believes in practical and culturally-appropriate solutions that can be adopted at the local level.

This seminar explains why the time for mental health research in Shenzhen is now and outlines a proposal for the contextualization and adaptation of the depressive disorders’ component of the (mhGAP-IG.v2) for use by community based doctors in Shenzhen, China.