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Getting to know PLOS Mental Health: Community Mental Health

PLOS Mental Health considers submissions across the entire range of mental health-related disciplines and currently has 16 different sections. We’ll be sharing the visions of our sections and Section Editors over the coming months. First up, Community Mental Health, which is led by Gloria Wong alongside Boldale Mapayi. In this post we present a Q&A with Gloria…

Please tell us a little about yourself

[GW] I am currently Associate Professor at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading. Before coming to the UK, I received my undergraduate training in Philosophy & Psychology and PhD training in Psychiatry in Hong Kong, where I have worked in teaching and research roles for more than 10 years. My research goal is to apply knowledge from these disciplines to improve wellbeing of people with different mental health needs. I work with various populations including people with psychosis, dementia, and older people and young adults at risk of developing mental health conditions. Working directly with people with lived experience has always been my source of insight, as there is still so much unknown surrounding mental health conditions and the best way to support people experiencing them. I am co-leading two large-scale programmes in Hong Kong, JC JoyAge and LevelMind@JC, where we co-develop, with stakeholders, models of effective mental health prevention involving peers, ensuring that services are accessible, acceptable and user-friendly. My work has contributed to community mental health services being scaled up or routinely provided. My research has led to over 130 publications.  

What are your main areas of interest?

[GW] The field of mental health is (re)discovering the diversity of mental health experience and the ways in understanding ‘psychopathology’. We need research that is directly in touch with these experiences, where they happen – that is, in the community. I am particularly interested in understanding more about how prevention/interventions and care can be informed by these experiences, so that they can be more effective, appropriate, and personalised, while ensuring that services are accessible and equitable.

Why did you agree to join PLOS Mental Health as a Section Editor?

[GW] Nowadays I would be very careful before committing to journal invitations. I agreed to join the team because I really appreciate the journal’s focus on giving a voice to people with lived experience in mental health. Many journals tend to emphasize performance metrics, but this one stands out for its mission-driven approach. I believe it addresses an important gap in mental health research, and I would like to be part of that effort.

Many journals tend to emphasize performance metrics, but this one stands out for its mission-driven approach

What kind of submissions would you like to see in the Community Mental Health section/what do you think are the most pressing questions of your field at the moment?

[GW] I would love to see research reports with a strong emphasis on lived experience influence and involvement. And research that provides direction to solving real-world challenges in community mental health. One of the most pressing issues is mental health human resources: we have come a long way in advancing psychotherapies and psychosocial interventions, yet the majority of these evidence-based interventions are inaccessible as they often require highly specialised training and specific skills. Meanwhile the need for mental health support is huge and ever growing. The field needs to hear more from researchers who partner with people with lived experience in tackling this grand challenge in community mental health. 

Check out the latest content from PLOS Mental Health. Some of our Community Mental Health highlights include:

  • An Opinion Piece on how we should frame the use of lay counselling initiatives in communities globally
  • A study on how stigma varies with mental health condition and gender in rural Uganda
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