CONF: WHO mental health forum 2018 / by Erich Kofmel

The Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Forum 2018 of the World Health Organization will take place 11-12 October at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year's theme is "Accelerating Country Action on Mental Health", seeking to "provide an opportunity for diverse stakeholders to discuss progress on WHO's Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 in countries". This may therefore be an opportunity for autistic people to participate who feel more confident speaking about the situation in their respective countries rather than at the global level.

Following the publication online of the ICD-11 diagnostic manual (which needs to be formally adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2019), there will be a pre-publication launch of the chapters on mental, behavioural, and neurological disorders. This should be of great relevance to autistic self-advocates who, like us, think that autism is not a disorder and should not be in the International Classification of Diseases to begin with and disagree with the specific requirements for diagnosis, as outlined in the final text released by the WHO on 18 June 2018 with a view to faciliating implementation at country level, such as translation into local languages (

To celebrate World Mental Health Day (10 October), a lunchtime seminar will be held during the forum on "Young people and mental health in a changing world". The relevance of this for autistic persons is self-evident.

A "High-Level Segment: Raising Mental Health on the Political Agenda" will discuss how "Mental health's position on the political agenda has significantly risen over the last year. During our High-Level Segment, we will review the progress, learn about new initiatives and discuss ways to accelerate country action."

Furthermore, they are planning to start evaluating the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 and discussing what comes after 2020. The WHA autism resolution was attached to the Mental Health Action Plan in 2014 and will likely be evaluated/renewed at the same time.

Background: "The mhGAP Forum is an informal group consisting of Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including UN Agencies, international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, research institutes, universities and WHO Collaborating Centres, for coordinated action in the implementation of mhGAP - WHO's Programme to scale up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. The World Health Assembly's adoption of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 in May 2013 enhances the need for partnerships, which makes the mhGAP Forum even more relevant."

Registration will be open from 2 July through 5 October:

Autistic Minority International has participated in the fora in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Please contact us for the flyer with more details and/or let us know if you or someone from your organization or network would like to represent us this year:

Unfortunately, we can't offer funding for travel and accommodation.

[Update 9 October 2018: For the first time, the plenary sessions of this year's mhGAP Forum will be livestreamed. That's almost the entire programme, except two "small group discussions". Webcast link, including full programme: ]