COVID-19 and Mental Health in the Asia Pacific: Challenges, Risk and Opportunities

The outbreak and spread of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been devastating globally, including for much of the Asia Pacific region. This unprecedented global health emergency will have profound social, psychological and economic impacts, meaning that a coordinated response is needed to address the acute and long-term mental health implications. Vulnerable people, including frontline workers, victims of domestic violence, people experiencing homelessness, substance use disorders and those with low socioeconomic status or precarious employment will be particularly at risk. Equity considerations are therefore essential when planning and implementing mental health responses. This webinar will discuss the mental health challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, will provide examples of responses from across the Asia Pacific region, and will discuss opportunities for improved mental health care access and equity, including through the use of digital technologies. The role of the APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health as a regional network responding to mental health issues in the context of COVID-19 will also be described.

This webinar is organized by APRU Global Health Program and USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

Revisit the webinar on YouTube

Presentation slides


Date and Time

Friday, July 3, 2020

11 am (Sydney)/10 am (Tokyo/Seoul)/9 am (Hong Kong/Beijing)/8 am (Bangkok)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

6 pm Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Additional Information

  • This webinar is open to the public and will be recorded for those who cannot attend live.

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  • The views, information, or opinions expressed during webinars are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Association of Pacific Rim Universities (“APRU”) and its employees. APRU is not responsible for and does not verify for accuracy of any of the information contained in the series.

Dr Jill Murphy
Research Associate, Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia, and Strategic Initiatives Director for APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health

Dr. Jill Murphy is a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and is the Strategic Initiatives Director for the APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health. Her expertise is in global mental health in the Asia-Pacific, with a focus on the implementation and scale-up of community-based depression care. Dr. Murphy’s research focuses broadly on addressing a critical gap in care for people living with mental illness, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, predominantly through the adaptation and scale-up of evidence-based practice. Her areas of interest include the integration of mental health services into primary care and community-based settings, the use of digital technologies to improve mental health care access and equity, workplace mental health, and enhancing meaningful stakeholder engagement in global mental health. She is currently a co-investigator on studies in China and Vietnam.

Dr Maosheng Ran (Moderator)
Associate Professor Department of Social Work and Social Administration Faculty of Social Sciences The University of Hong Kong

Dr. Ran has medical degrees (B.Med., M.Med.) from West China University of Medical Sciences (WCUMS) and PhD (Mental Health) from the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He once was an associate professor at Department of Psychiatry, West China Hospital, Sichuan University (1997-1999), and a full professor (Public Health) at University of Guam (USA) (2011-2013). Currently he is an associate professor at Department of Social Work and Social Administration, HKU; Visiting Professor, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University, China; Chair, Academic Committee, Institute of Mental Health, Yangtze University, China; Founder and principal investigator of Chengdu Mental Health Project (CMHP); Co-Chair, Cultural Psychiatry and the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic, and Chair, Culture, Stigma and Discrimination, World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP); Co-Chair, Global Health Program (Mental Health), Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU); Committee Member, Crisis Intervention Committee, China Mental Health Association. His major research interests include social development and mental health, transcultural psychiatry, community mental health, psychosocial intervention, stigma of mental illness, psychiatric epidemiology, disaster events and mental health, and suicide. Being a PI or Co-PI, he has received numerous research grant supports from World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH, USA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), General Research Fund (GRF, HK), Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (PPR, HK), American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, USA), and etc. By now he has published over 140 academic papers and 6 books/chapters, and won 7 academic awards. He has recently published a paper on General Psychiatry entitled

Psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers: A cross- sectional study in China.