The AGMHI supports the advancement of mental health care in Africa across the four domains of research, education and training, clinical care delivery, and policy.


The Africa Global Mental Health Institute (AGMHI) embodies Dr. Chester M. Pierce's vision to serve the mental health needs of all people, everywhere.

Our History

In 2002, the 1st African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference was convened by Chester M. Pierce, MD at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The conference brought together 40 psychiatrists of African descent to analyze, discuss, and develop an agenda to address the role of psychiatry and psychiatrists in healing the mental health problems of people of African-descent in Africa and throughout the world. In November 2016, David Henderson, MD of Boston University, Bonga Chiliza, MD of University of KwaZulu-Natal, Eliot Sorel, MD of George Washington University, Gregory Fricchione, MD of Harvard University, and a host of others convened at the 2nd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference in Cape Town, South Africa to develop a central organization to spearhead and accelerate capacity-building for mental health care in Africa and the diaspora. At the urging of global leaders who have made significant contributions to the growth of mental health care in Africa, the Africa Global Mental Health Institute (AGMHI) was born.

1st African Diaspora Conference (2002)

In coming years, perhaps these deliberations will lead to new and important cross-national, cross-disciplinary projects designed to serve all people, everywhere. This meeting is one step toward achieving a worldwide organization of Black psychiatrists, which will allow participation with medical, governmental, and non-governmental agencies.

- Dr. Chester M. Pierce, 2002

In the proceedings from this landmark conference, you will find a host of rich discussions ranging from the psychological effects of colonialism to socioeconomic disparities in mental health care. Conference attendees highlighted the need for relevant, evidence-based clinical interventions for mental health issues in people of African descent, as well as the need to recognize the roles that racism and colonialism continue to play in Africans' mental health and well-being. By the end of the conference, the attendees determined that an infrastructure must be built to support international research and intervention projects, particularly for community-based and culturally relevant projects. They highlighted the importance of conducting these projects with disadvantaged populations, such as the elderly, children, immigrants, and those suffering from preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS. In setting the foundation for this infrastructure, it was suggested that psychiatrists of African-descent establish an international organization to address these issues.

2nd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference (2016)

The ideas discussed at the 2002 conference were groundbreaking and ahead of their time. Although psychiatrists who attended the meeting were able to bring these ideas to their individual institutions, there did not yet exist an infrastructure to facilitate the collaborations discussed during the meeting. Over the next 14 years, support grew for global mental health initiatives. By 2016, organizers from the 1st African Diaspora Conference realized that the world was ready to embrace an institute of this magnitude. The 2nd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference was held in Cape Town in November of 2016 with the expressed goal of developing the Africa Global Mental Health Institute (AGMHI). This meeting established the identity of the institute and concluded with a clear set of goals.

Aligned with the World Bank and the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, the AGMHI aims to strategically enhance mental health care in Africa and the diaspora across four key domains: education, research, services, and policy.

3rd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference (2019)

The 3rd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference took place in Cape Town, South Africa on 18-19 September 2019 at Century City Conference Centre. It was hosted by Boston Medical Center (BMC)/Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The conference brought together 43 notable psychiatrists and mental health professionals from all over the world to address ongoing global mental health challenges and to accelerate the development of solutions for Africa and the diaspora. Under the direction of Dr. David Henderson, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Boston Medical Center, and Dr. Bonga Chiliza, Associate Professor, Chief Specialist & Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the goal of this meeting was to engage in workshops and in-depth discussions on mental health in the four sectors of research, training and education, clinical services, and policy.

The conference began with a keynote address delivered by Dr. Denese Shervington, Chair of Psychiatry at Charles R. Drew University and President of the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES). In her presentation entitled ‘Towards a Global Agenda for Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in People of Color,’ Dr. Shervington touched upon the various sources of trauma that young people of color experience globally. She highlighted the consequences of exposure to community violence, the shared trauma between apartheid and colonialism, and the neurobiological changes that occur due to chronic stress. The keynote address was followed by presentations from various mental health professionals whose work focuses on one of the key domains of the AGMHI. The second day of the conference consisted of breakaway sessions where attendees worked together on developing grant proposals in three key areas: 1) training & education; 2) collaborative research; and 3) scale up of mental health services.


David C. Henderson, MD

Co-Director Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine; Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Boston Medical Center

Bonginkosi Chiliza, MD, FC Psych, PhD

Co-Director Associate Professor/Chief Specialist and Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

Steering Committee

The AGMHI Steering Committee was formulated following the 3rd African Diaspora Global Mental Health Conference in 2019 and provides strategic guidance, vision, and oversight to the institute and its working groups.

Lukoye Atwoli, MD
Christina P.C. Borba, PhD, MPH
Lori Chibnik, MD
Michelle P. Durham, MD, MPH
Teshome Kelkile, MD
Anusha Lachman, MD
Munyaradzi Madhombiro, MD
Noeline Nakasujja, MD
Vuyokazi Ntlantsana, MD
Micaela Owusu, MD, MSc
Malveeka Sharma, MD
Mvuyiso Talatala, MD
Solomon Teferra, MD

Senior Advisors:

David Ndetei, MD, PhD; Eliot Sorel, MD; Gregory Fricchione, MD