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Pamela Collins, Global Mental Health Scholar, Joins Bloomberg School as Chair of Department of Mental Health


Pamela Collins, MD, MPH, a leader in the field of global mental health, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as chair of the Department of Mental Health. She assumes the role on July 1. 

Collins comes to the Bloomberg School from the University of Washington, where she directed the Consortium for Global Mental Health since 2018 and served as a professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and as a professor in Global Health. Previously, Collins served on the faculty at Columbia University in New York and in senior leadership at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Collins will serve as a Bloomberg Centennial Professor, with formal appointment to the professorship by the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees scheduled for the fall. The Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health is the only department dedicated to mental health within a school of public health. As Mental Health chair, Collins plans to build on the strengths of the Department to link domestic and global research, local knowledge, and lived experience to expand approaches to supporting mental health in the region and beyond. 

“We are living through an extraordinary period of mental health awareness, triggered in part by suffering during the pandemic,” says Collins. “I can’t think of a more important time to work with communities to apply the tools of public health to promote and sustain mental health, to better understand the drivers of mental health conditions, and to care for existing mental health needs.”

A psychiatrist and mixed methods researcher, Collins has studied the intersections of mental health and HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and the associated social stigma in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. She also focuses on the mental health needs of adolescents in diverse urban settings.  

At the University of Washington (UW), Collins served as executive director of the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), a global health implementation center in UW’s Department of Global Health. She also served as associate director of the UW Behavioral Research Center for HIV. 

“Dr. Collins has exceptional experience in both technical and leadership arenas, including leading efforts to train a diverse scientific workforce,” says Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM, dean of the Bloomberg School. “Her vision, drive, and experience are an ideal fit for the mission of our School and our Mental Health Department.”

During eight years at NIMH, Collins established and directed the Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health. Her leadership led to the launch of research initiatives to extend mental health services in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as research to reduce mental health disparities among diverse racial and ethnic communities in the U.S. She and her team led the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health at NIMH in 2011, and in 2015 developed the RISING SUN initiative to reduce suicide in Indigenous Arctic communities under the two-year U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Collins graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Purdue University in 1986 and earned a Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 1997. She received her MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1991. 

Collins succeeds M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, who stepped down to become dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University last summer.

At the Bloomberg School, the Department of Mental Health started as a division in 1941 and became a full department in 1961. Today, the Department brings together leading researchers across multiple disciplines to understand, prevent, and treat mental health and substance use disorders. The Department’s Global Mental Health Program, launched in 2007, encompasses projects in more than 20 countries across five continents and has been at the forefront of developing mental health and psychosocial support services in low-resource settings. 

The Centennial professorship endowment is part of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which is supporting 28 endowed positions. The Initiative focuses on addressing major health challenges facing the nation, including food systems for health, environmental challenges, addiction and overdose, violence, and adolescent health.

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Media contacts: Kristine Henry and Barbara Benham