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


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

Suicide and the Holidays

Suicide is more common around the holidays, right? Wrong. 1. It is a myth that suicide rates increase around the holidays. Perhaps because we hope that the holidays will be a time of enhanced joy and connection, it feels especially poignant when someone dies by suicide at this time of year.

Breaking the Glass

The most iconic moment of a Jewish wedding follows many beautiful and symbolic prayers and gestures that culminate in the much anticipated crescendo when the couple standing before their community break a glass – stomping on it and shattering it to pieces. It is then that their marriage is sealed.

“Wow! That’s about all I can say – Wow!”

When I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine with Project Kesher, I found myself recalling the magical children’s book by Kevin Henkes, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. The lovable Lilly is so awed by the world around her that many times her only words are, “Wow! That’s about all I can say

What about Dorothea Dix?

Last night five dear friends came over for dinner. We laughed; we told stories. We talked politics and kids in alternating breaths. We ran through summer plans, college drop-offs and future adventures and before we knew it, midnight struck. It was an evening filled with joy created by the strength