What is Mental Health?

Someone dies from completing suicide every 15 minutes; that’s roughly 38,000 suicides each year. And about 90% of suicides are related to mental health illnesses. The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Nevertheless, global mental health is an area of public health that receives little attention.


Mental health is a difficult topic to discuss as it is frequently stigmatized around the world and some cultures do not have words to describe such illnesses. Professionals in this field work to break these stigmas; decrease the global burden of disease due to mental and neurological disorders; and improve overall well-being of the population.

Labs & ClubsAttachment and Health Disparities Research LabThe Attachment and Health Disparities Lab seeks to understand health disparities observed among young sexual and racial/ethnic minorities through the lens of Dr. Cook’s integrated theory of adult attachment and minority stress. Though current theoretical paradigms of attachment indicate how individuals respond to stress, these theories do not adequately account for the unique impact of social stressors on individual health and well-being, which may be of critical importance in understanding the drivers of health in marginalized populations. The negative social valuation of a marginalized identity—such as a sexual minority identity or a racial minority identity—causes stress in persons with a marginalized social status beyond the level of stress that people generally experience; this excess stress has been named minority stress. However, many theories of minority stress are limited and inadequately delineate the associations between attachment orientation, stress, and subsequent health outcomes.  Making these theoretical and empirical linkages is important for understanding how to address health disparities among disadvantaged individuals who are at heightened risk for experiencing minority stress compared to other individuals (e.g., African-American youth, sexual minority men). Therefore, one of the main objectives of Dr. Cook’s research is to understand the pathways and mechanisms located particularly at the intersection of marginalized identities that link attachment, minority stress, and health among disadvantaged individuals.

Mission for Mental Health (MMH)Mission for Mental Health (MMH) is currently a one of its kind club at CGPH with a sole focus on mental health. Our mission is to engage our fellow students, staff, faculty and the larger New York City community in discussions encompassing stigma, policy and health resources. We hope that our work ultimately leads to a better understanding of the many facets in mental health and begin to chip away at the stigmas surrounding a crucial, complicated aspect of wellbeing.

Population Impact, Recovery, and Resilience (PiR2)

The Program on Population Impact, Recovery, and Resilience (PiR2) applies social science and public health theory and methods to improving the health and well-being of communities and populations affected by, or at-risk of, complex hazards and disasters.

Mathematically, PiR2 is an equation describing the area of a circle.  Its elegance is that it works for any size circle, large or small.  This epitomizes our goal: to measure recovery and resilience within any size community, and to account for the multiple social, economic, and cultural systems that influence the health and well-being of the populations living within it.

Faculty at GPH

Stephanie Cook

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics
Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Stephanie Cook’s research focus is to understand how structural- and individual-level minority stressors contribute to mental health, physical health, and health behaviors across the life span.

Emily Goldmann

Clinical Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Emily Goldmann is a social epidemiologist who seeks to contextualize and understand the causes and consequences of mental health illness across populations and the varying aspects of life.

Alexis A Merdjanoff

Clinical Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

At the intersection of public health and sociology, Dr. Merdjanoff work explores how social inequalities shape the impact of disaster on health, recovery, and resiliency.

Lawrence H Yang

Vice Chair and Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Associate Director, Global Center for Implementation Science
Founding Director, Global Mental Health and Stigma Program

Dr. Larry Yang explores global mental health and how culture relates to stigma, in order to implement interventions that improve recovery from stigmatizing conditions, such as mental illness and HIV.
We all have a stake in making mental health a frequent topic of discussion. One in four people lives with a mental health condition. This should matter to all of us.
- Dior Vargas, MPH '19
I AM GPH EP71 Mindfulness and Meditation with Dr. LeConté Dill

Join us as we discuss mindfulness practices and resources with Dr. LeConté Dill, a native of South Central Los Angeles who is current resides in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. She holds degrees from Spelman College, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. Dr. Dill is also a scholar, educator, and a poet focusing on violence prevention, resilience, and wellness, particularly for urban Black girls and other youth of color. Currently, Dr. Dill is Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Director of Public Health Practice at the New York University College of Global Public Health.

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