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Rosalynn Carter to Open World Conference on Mental Health


Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter will open the third world conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental and Behavioural Disorders being held Sept. 14-17, 2004, at the Hyatt Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand. Mrs. Carter, honorary chair of the conference, has worked for more than 30 years to help people with mental illnesses and their families.

She will chair a plenary session Sept. 15 featuring new reports from the World Health Organization, including Promoting Mental Health, The Prevention of Mental Disorders, and Mental Health Promotion Case Studies from around the world, produced jointly with the World Federation for Mental Health. Presenters include Dr. Shekhar Saxena from the World Health Organization, Clemens Hosman from the Universities of Maastricht and Nijmegan in the Netherlands, and Helen Herrman from Melbourne University.

The conference is being hosted by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand in partnership with the The Carter Center, the World Federation for Mental Health, The Clifford Beers Foundation, and the World Health Organization.

The theme, From Research to Effective Practice,will highlight the latest research, evidence, and practice showing how mental health promotion and prevention of mental illnesses is working with all ages-- from infants to the elderly--in the United States, South Africa, Norway, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, the U.K., Israel, and New Zealand.

Mrs. Carter will also attend a special powhiri--a ceremony of welcome extended to visitors by Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand--at Orakei Marae, Auckland, Sept. 14. The event, being held prior to the start of the conference, will welcome international speakers and more than 300 delegates from across the globe.

Workshops will cover a wide range of issues across many countries including suicide prevention, terrorism and the mental health impact on whole communities, children's mental health and wellbeing, the mental health and wellbeing of soldiers and ex-soldiers, ethnicity and mental health promotion, and workplace stress.

International speakers and key guests include Sir Paul Reeves, former governor general and patron of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and the conference; the Honourable Ruth Dyson, associate minister of health; Dr. Shekhar Saxena, the World Health Organization; professor Graham Martin, University of Queensland; professor Steve Edwards, South Africa; and professor Mason Durie, Dr Peter McGeorge, Dr. Max Abbott, and Dr. Janice Wilson, all of New Zealand.

According to Dr. Alison Taylor, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, "This conference will bring people together from all over world to highlight how we can best look after the mental health and well-being of diverse populations. There is increasing evidence that mental health promotion is effective and that it works with infants, teenagers, parents, employees, and the elderly, and we can share this expertise at the conference and give the work a higher profile beyond the health sector."

A special policy forum featuring speakers who lead mental health policy in many countries will be held on the eve of the conference, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14, chaired by Dr. Karen Poutasi, director general of health, Ministry of Health, New Zealand.

Speakers include Charles G. Curie, administrator, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; A. Kathryn Power, director, U.S. Center for Mental Health Service; David Morris, National Institute for Mental Health in England; Dr. Beverley Raphael, director, New South Wales Health Department, Australia; Dr. Helen Herrman, professor and director of psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia; and Dr. Janice Wilson, deputy director general, Mental Health Directorate, New Zealand.

Conference plenaries include:

  • An exploration of the links between mental health, physical activity, and public health with speakers from the U.K. (Dr. Ken Fox of Bristol University) and South Africa (Dr. Steve Edwards of Zululand University)
  • Neurological Development and the influence of Social Environment and Behaviour, Sept. 17, with speakers from the United States (Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute on Mental Health) and New Zealand, (Dr. Kathie Irwin). The session will be chaired by Sally Merry, department of psychiatry, University of Auckland
  • Worldwide Indigenous Health Perspectives with key speakers from New Zealand (Mason Durie of Massey University) and South Africa (Leslie Swartz from the University of Stellenbosch), Sept. 15.

Workplace mental health will also be on the agenda at a breakfast seminar Sept. 18, sponsored by Vodafone NZ and including the Clifford Beers Foundation, UNITEC, and the Mental Health Foundation from New Zealand.

For more details of the conference visit the Mental Health Foundation's website

Learn more about
the Carter Center's
Mental Health Program
Mrs. Carter's mental health advocacy.

The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

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