What Martin Luther King, Jr. Knew But Never Said

On Monday, we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Stories and accolades will fill every form of media. Appropriately so. We will celebrate this legendary leader’s commitment to nonviolence and his extraordinary legacy of fighting for racial justice in the US Civil Rights movement. Renowned for his passionate and

World AIDS Day 2021

This past Wednesday, December 1st, was World AIDS Day. Dating back to 1988, World AIDS Day is “an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.” The story

Si sta bene in Trieste

I am so happy to be in Italy after a nearly two-year hiatus from international travel. Italy is one of the places in the world that I call home. My paternal grandmother was born in Rome. I lived in Bologna as a university student. I return as often as possible.

Mental Health in an Unequal World

Last week, my friend and colleague, Harold Pincus, sent me a stunning photo of the vast field of white flags that carpet the Washington Mall in commemoration of the 700,000+ lives lost to COVID in the United States. It is heart-wrenching. The world is so unfair, and the pandemic has

The Future of Global Mental Health

Talk about the future often focuses on technological innovation, space travel, and the discovery of life forms in galaxies that we can barely imagine. As a professor, my view of the future is much more exciting. It comes into focus every time I rest my eyes on my students. This

Mental Health Takes Center Court

“Fault!” That’s the call of a line referee when the tennis ball lands outside an opponent’s designated service box. This week, the cry came when Naomi Osaka, four-time Grand Slam champion and number two ranked female tennis player in the world, refused to participate in a mandatory post-match news conference

Congratulations, Dr. Poku!

Following graduation from Mount Holyoke College, Ohemaa Poku started as the Program Coordinator at our Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health in 2014. Over the past seven years, she’s been busy! She worked at Columbia for a stretch and then embarked on her graduate education in public health. Last week

Healthy Planet, Healthy People

Planet Earth. Home sweet home for almost eight billion people. This past Thursday we celebrated with our annual Earth Day, and our week was filled with related news and programs. The beautiful images and extraordinary stories about mother nature were fabulous. The many reminders of the existential threat of climate

Light

We lit the first candle of Hanukkah yesterday. White match head pressed against the rough side of the box. Swift strike. Flame ignites. Gentle touch. Wick burns. Candle glows. The light is mesmerizing. Hanukkah is in good company. Around this time of year, all over the world, people are also

International Day of the Girl: Get Out Your Hiking Boots

Today is International Day of the Girl. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that these two days sit side by side on the calendar. In the world of mental health, the data are overwhelmingly clear that gender matters. Gender equality is associated with better public

What is the Price of Freedom?

As the sun goes down this evening, millions of Jews around the world will celebrate the first night of Passover. The Passover Seder tells the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. We are to tell the story as if we too were once slaves. It is a

When Friends Become Family and Family Become Friends

In 1980-81, I studied international affairs in Bologna, Italy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). I had studied French since sixth grade, and thus, wanted to go to the Sorbonne in Paris. But I was a scholarship student at Hopkins, and the only option that I