On 12 October, the Professor Joop de Jong (MD, PhD) delivered a public lecture on Public mental health - the state of the art of dealing with distress. Prof de Jong is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and epidemiologist with active interests in public mental health systems, various models of trauma and post-traumatic reconstruction of communities. Prof de Jong is Professor of Cultural and International Psychiatry at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine (USA), Visiting Professor in the Psychology Department at Rhodes University (South Africa), and Principal Advisor of Socio-Medical Projects and Public Mental Health, City of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
In Prof de Jong’s lecture he stated that in the aftermath of massive emergencies there is a large treatment gap and a need to develop contextually relevant and culturally appropriate preventive and curative interventions. He described the basic principles of public mental health and the public mental health model. The model includes the phases of assessment, priority selection of interventions, the design, cultural adaptation and implementation. The model discussed in the lecture is multi-sectional, multi-modal and multi-level model, which can be moulded to the socio-cultural context of the public mental health. The lecture identified a way in which the micro and macro level of mental health and psychosocial support can be used to deal with public mental health.
Professor Joop de Jong is an expert in public mental health and cultural and international psychiatry. He has conducted research in post-conflict and in multicultural settings, and has (co)authored about 235 chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has published on cultural and international psychiatry and psychotherapy, public mental health, public health and trauma, epidemiology, medical anthropology and on the mental health of populations torn by violence and disaster. He is advisor to WHO and other UN agencies, member of various professional organizations and board member of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.
With regard to South Africa, he advised the ANC and several NGOs on public (mental) health, trauma and psychosocial issues. He was involved in operation Vula, providing psychosocial support to political exiles in the Netherlands during the apartheid era. He is co-researcher of a large international project on traditional medicines, ethnobotany and medical anthropolology with the Universities of Cape Town, Oslo, Bergen, Oxford, Bamako, Kampala and Amsterdam. He is involved in research on HIV and mental health with Witwatersrand University. He was the only international guest and speaker at the Convention on an Action for a Safe South Africa in 2008, and has been teaching and lecturing in South Africa on a number of occasions.