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Following over a decade of NIH-funded mental health work conducted by department faculty members in low- and middle-income countries, the UNC Division of Global Mental Health came into existence on October 1, 2019. Our goals are to develop, test, and build the capacity to deliver contextually-appropriate and sustainable models for mental health intervention with local and global partners. Our division is a joint effort of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Epidemiology, in the UNC Schools of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Mission: Contribute to the reduction in the burden of mental disorders in low- and middle- income resource settings (LMICs) globally.

Our Principles


We seek to work with individuals and organizations who aim to improve mental health outcomes globally.  Collaborative research and training activities with university partners, ministries of health, non-governmental organizations and community-based networks enable us to engage diverse perspectives for complex problems.

Research: We generate and value mental health research with real world relevance and impact. Our faculty collaborate with partners locally, regionally, and globally. We work on projects developing and testing treatment and preventive interventions, system integration of mental health care, stigma reduction approaches, incorporation of mental health services into diverse community settings, and much more.

Training and Education: We aim to train and educate the next generation of global mental health leaders, practitioners, and researchers

Dissemination and Implementation: We are committed to translating evidence-based psychiatric care to care that can be delivered in real world clinics, with a special focus on population with limited resources.



Drs. Bradley Gaynes, Brian Pence and Samantha Meltzer-Brody. U19 SHARP (funded), D43 WARMHEART (funded), R34 PERISCOPE (funded)

The Malawian Program for Mental Health Research Training (WARMHEART) (1D43TW011794-01), sponsored by the NIH Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences. Director of the Division for Global Mental Health, Dr. Bradley Gaynes is principal investigator and Dr. Susan Girdler co-investigator. This initiative builds on the strong training track records of and successful collaborations between UNC-Chapel Hill, the Malawi College of Medicine, the Malawi Ministry of Health, and many other partners. WARMHEART will create an expert pool of mental health researchers based in Malawi who are trained as leaders and able to collaborate with other disciplines and policymakers to address the role of psychiatric illness across the lifespan in sub-Saharan Africa.



Drs. Bradley Gaynes and Brian Pence. R34 VITAL (funded)

The R34 in Vietnam was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The project is called VITAL (1R34DA051933-01; Gaynes PI). It’s full title is: Adaptation of the Friendship Bench counseling intervention to improve mental health and HIV care engagement outcome among people living with HIV who inject drugs in Vietnam. This project will adapt and pilot a feasible and effective problem-solving therapy designed for low-resource settings to address common mental disorders like depression and anxiety–the Friendship Bench–in a Vietnamese population of individuals living with HIV who also have opiate use disorder.


Dr. Christina Cruz. American Academy of Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, Thrasher Research Fund, Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation



Dr. Bradley Gaynes, Dr. Christine Cruz, Dr. Brian Pence, Dr. Roberto Blanco