Eliot Sorel (MD) co-chairs the scientific committee of the 23rd World Congress of Social Psychiatry, in October 2019 (www.wasp2019bucharest.org).

Eliot Sorel is an innovative global health leader, educator, health systems performance expert, and a practicing physician. Dr. Sorel has served as a subject matter expert on World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank Group (WBG), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) projects. At the George Washington University, in Washington, DC, Dr. Sorel is the lead physician, teaching global mental health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health. He is clinical professor of global health, health policy & management and of psychiatry & behavioral sciences. He chairs the Access to Care Committee of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Dr. Sorel initiated and led the clinical public health research project on depression and comorbidity in primary care in China, India, Iran and Romania, published in the International Medical Journal. In June 2018, he was the President of the 1st International Perinatal Total Health Congress. One of seven books published by Dr. Sorel is 21st Century Global Mental Health. His most recent publication is Translating Scientific Evidence into Global Health Policy.

Dr. Sorel was honored with Doctor Honoris Causa by “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy and by the Politehnica University of Bucharest, Romania, in October 2009 and in June 2014, respectively. He was honored with the Mental Health Champion Award at the Universal Health and Mental Health for All Congress in Malta, on December 12, 2018.

The President of Romania decorated Dr. Sorel with the Order of the Star of Romania, Commander rank, in January 2004. The Government of Romania honored Dr. Sorel with the Excellence Prize, at the Romanian Embassy, in Washington, on October 17, 2018.

Doina Cozman: You are one of the international leaders who promote total health and the implementation of psychiatry in a social context. Which are, in your opinion, the main social determinants that influence the onset and evolution of psychiatric disorders?

Eliot Sorel: It is my pleasure to be back in Romania and to co-chair the scientific committee of the 23rd World Congress of Social Psychiatry that will take place in Bucharest, in 25-28 October 2019.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Both health and illness are influenced by multiple determinants, genetic, biologic, social, psychologic, environmental, nutritional, as well as by the state of physical activity. Adverse childhood experiences, largely of a social nature, play a particularly vexing and catalytic role in the genesis of non-communicable disease, such as cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety and diabetes.


D.C.: Health for all and access to health care for all categories of people represent your statement of belief. Why is that? 

E.S.: According to World Bank, 50% of the world’s population have no access to care. We believe that access to care, including mental health care, is a human right. We have introduced such an action paper in the American Psychiatric Association (APA) – “Access to care”. It is now the policy of the APA. The lack of access to care is not detrimental only to individuals’ but also to the countries’ economies. We have documented this perspective through the study published in 2014 at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “Making Mental Health Count”. At that time, the impact of not attending to mental health and social factors resulted in a $2.4 trillion impact on OECD countries economies.


D.C.: What are your expectations regarding the Bucharest WASP Congress?

E.S.: The Social Determinants of Health/Mental Health and Access to Care Congress, taking place in Bucharest, Romania, is an innovative congress that will address areas of health that have been insufficiently attended to in health/mental health research, training, services, health systems, and health policies. There will be plenary sessions, symposia, free papers presentations, as well as two tracks designated for our younger colleagues. An enormous social, economic and health threats at the near horizon is climate deterioration/change. Mindful of this extraordinary challenge, Professor Norman Sartorius and I will lead a masterclass with a focus on Climate deterioration and global violence: Can Social Psychiatry help ?

Together with Professors Roy Abraham Kallivayalil and Debasish Basu, we will be ceremonially launching, at our congress, the volume 1, number 1, of the World Social Psychiatry Journal. We hope that our congress and our new journal will be a force for innovative collaborations and integration between primary care, mental health and public health, enhancing health promotion, protection, illness prevention, and access to care towards achieving individuals’ and populations’ Total Health for All in the 21st century.