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Black Tie International:
World Health Day
Photos By:  Rose Billings/


Rose Billings.  Photo by:  Joyce Brooks

Nightlife with Rose Billings

World Health Day





 Dr Judy Kuriansky with Dr. Nata Menadbe, Executive Director of the World Health Organziation (WHO) office at UN headquarters, on World Health Day about “Depression: Let’s Talk” holding multi-colored foam Stress balls (squeeze to relieve tension!) handed out at the event


     Who doesn’t get blue?  For many, the blues become serious.  Depression knows no borders or boundaries.  The statistics are shocking: Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds. Many people have either no access to treatment or don’t go because of painful stigma. The cost of losing work, relationships and all aspects of life is high.

     This year the World Health Organization (WHO) is doing something about that. Their current year-long campaign is “Depression Let’s Talk,” to raise awareness, stop stigma, and encourage sharing and getting help. these issues were highlighted at an interesting and important conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on February 7 -- the day WHO was founded. Happy Birthday.

       Details are on the WHO website:

      The moderator of the event, WHO Executive Director of the UN office in New York, Dr. Nata Menadbe, described the theme and the campaign, and the day’s intention to report the research, and share commitments and experiences from experts, high level officials, NGOs, academics, and many others. Setting the tone “Let’s Talk” and the message to overcome stigma, created safety to share openly.  The Ambassador of the Mission of Canada to the UN, H.E. Marc-André Blanchard, set an example, reporting not only his country’s commitment to mental health, but sharing his personal challenge when his then-15-year-old son became depressed when his girlfriend ended her life. Following the example, acclaimed musician and mental health advocate Dr. Yasmine Van Wilt told of her struggles with mental health issues that inspired the songs she performed.   

      Commitment to address mental health in their country was voiced by Ambassadors from UN Missions representing nations around the world – big and small - from Canada and Belgium to Sri Lanka, Zambia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

     Our favorite internationally-known psychologist, Columbia University Teachers College professor, humanitarian, and author Dr. Judy Kuriansky talked about her 3 S’s of depression: shame, silence and stigma, and showed an exceptional video she produced about “Transforming Trauma into Hope and Healing.”  In the film, former beauty queen Marie Louise Ocran, now a law student, tells about trying to end her life twice as a child, that inspired her to now build a school in her native Ghana to help young girls learn about mental health and feel good about themselves; the NYC Mayor’s wife talks about her parents’ depression; and clips from Dr. Judy’s work around the world show techniques for young people to cope with natural disasters, the Ebola epidemic, and being refugees. 

     This World Health Day about mental health accomplished the goal:  to talk about depression but to leave on a note of hope.



Dr. Nata Menadbe with Canada UN Ambassador H.E. Marc-André Blanchard to her right and Sri Lanka UN Ambassador Dr. A. Rohan Perera to her left, with posters on the front of the podium with the slogan of the year-long campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk” in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.




from left to right:  The Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, Pascal Buffin; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Ambassador Dessima William, Special Adviser for Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Office of the President of the General Assembly; H.E. Ambassador Dr. A. Rohan Perera, Permanent Represntative of the Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN; and H.E. Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Canada to the UN.




Werner Obermeyer, Deputy to the executive Director at the WHO Office at UN headquarters; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Kathryn Goetzke, Executive Director of iFred (international foundation for research and education on depression); Craig Kramer, Mental Health Ambassador, Neuroscience External Affairs, and Chair, Global Campaign for Mental Health, Johnson & Johnson.




Canada’s UN Ambassador Blanchard with Dr. Judy Kuriansky




Ambassador Dessima Williams, Special Adviser for Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Office of the President of the General Assembly, advocate for the rights of women and girls, farmers and rural development, and former teacher and Permanent Representative to the United Nations from Grenada




Sri Lanka’s UN Ambassador Dr. A. Rohan Perer





Hana AlHashimi, Happiness Representative at the Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the UN and Dr. Judy Kuriansky, holding the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 and the yellow-colored foam Stress-Relief balls distributed at the event




Mahroo Moshari, founder of Manhattan Multicultural Counseling Inc., who runs a summer institute for youth to learn about the UN, with Dr. Judy in front of the poster of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United nations 2030 Agenda, of which “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” is Goal 3 and target 3.4 aims to “promote mental health and well-being”



Jeffrey Aron, Director at Fountain House; a conference attendee;
and WHO’s
Dr. Nata Menadbe



Award-winning singer-songwriter and mental health advocate Dr. Yasmine Van Wilt performed original songs based on her personal mental health challenges



The hard-working team of the World Health Organization Office at UN headquarters in NY. Front (left to right) Nicola Toffelmire and Jessica Clark; Back (left to right) Safaa Nofal, Sophie Evekink, Angelica Spraggins.



In front of the WHO banner, psychology graduate students from Columbia University Teachers College in Dr. Judy’s class about “Psychology and the United Nations.” (kneeling) Sara Yllescas, Amy Cheung and Junting Yu and Yumeng Zhang (standing far right), with Dr, Judy (in blue) and UN youth representatives for the International Association of Applied Psychology (Dr. Judy’s assistants) Joel Zinsou (far left) and Alexandra Margevich (second from right standing).



Dr. Judy Kuriansky congratulates all for a successful World Health Day, in front of the globe in the UN entrance plaza




Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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