Online Program

Essential role of public health policies in addressing mental health and trauma

Monday, November 2, 2015

Diane Elmore, PhD, MPH, UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Durham, NC

Effective public policies can help to shape societal norms concerning public health issues.  As such, they play an important role in protecting people and communities from health threats around the world.  The development and implementation of sound and timely public policies are also essential in addressing mental health and trauma as global public health concerns.  Specifically, such policies must focus on preventing traumatic events, when possible, providing early intervention services for survivor communities at risk of poor post-trauma outcomes, and reducing stigma.


A selected global literature review was conducted to identify key mental health and trauma policy successes and common policy challenges. 


While many countries have made strides in developing public policies aimed at preventing or intervening in the aftermath of trauma, there are several overarching policy challenges facing communities plagued by violence and trauma. These challenges include ensuring that mental health is included in the global public health agenda; enhancing global mental health and trauma research; developing and maintaining a sufficient global mental health workforce; improving equitable access to effective integrated and trauma-informed approaches to care; and reducing stigma and discrimination associated with trauma and mental health issues. 


Important lessons can be learned from recent and ongoing mental health and trauma policy successes around the world.  In addition, significant policy challenges continue to hinder global public health prevention and intervention efforts targeting those exposed to traumatic events.  Identifying and understanding these challenges yields important implications for developing and implementing a trauma-informed public health science, practice, and policy agenda.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe several key public health policy challenges identified in the scientific literature that are essential in addressing mental health and trauma

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, Mental Health System

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Policy Program Director for UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and Adjunct Professor at American University. I served as Director of the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office and as a Health Policy Fellow in the Office of Senator Hillary Clinton. I have a PhD in Psychology and an MPH. I serve on the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Board and on their Trauma and Public Health Task Force.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.