Professor Honored by APA for Contributions to Global Mental Health

Hall in his office at NYU Shanghai
Sep 9 2021

Brian J. Hall, Professor of Global Public Health at NYU Shanghai and Associated Professor at NYU’s School of Global Public Health, has been named one of two 2021 recipients of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

The award honors what the APA described as Hall’s “ground-breaking work” to improve mental health among migrant workers in China, his extensive efforts to mentor junior scholars, and his collaboration with international organizations to improve access to mental health services for disadvantaged communities around the world.

The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of doctoral-level psychologists in the United States, with over 75,000 full members. The Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest is granted to two psychologists annually: one early career psychologist and one in the senior stages of their career. Past recipients of the award include five future APA presidents and influential practitioners and scholars working with populations such as LGBTQ youth, disadvantaged children, immigrant communities, and sexual assault survivors.  

“[Previous recipients of this award] have each applied science to work on issues that bring about an improvement to the human condition and attempt to address issues facing marginalized populations,” Hall said. “I am aligned with their work collectively, and I'm honored to have been selected to receive this award that reflects my personal commitment to migrant health, and to addressing the lasting effects of psychological trauma amongst populations in China and around the world.”

Hall has published on topics ranging from post-disaster mental health to internet gaming addiction, from sleep disorders among migrant workers to the delivery and cultural adaptation of digital mental health interventions across Asia. In 2017, Hall was named the inaugural Global Mental Health Fellow of the World Health Organization. He has also served as a consultant for UNICEF and UNAIDS, and he has collaborated with several community-based organizations around the globe, working to improve the health of populations such as internal Chinese and international migrants, adolescents, caregivers, and older adults. Hall is currently leading the development of digital mental health implementation guidelines for the WHO Western Pacific Region, conducting the first randomized trial of the WHO Step-by-Step digital mental health intervention for Chinese young adults, and serving on the Lancet Commission for Mental Health in China.

“The APA's recognition of Brian Hall's work by bestowing on him their annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest reminds us that the purpose of the university is both the advancement of knowledge and the enhancing of the greater good of the community,” said NYU Shanghai Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen.

One of Hall’s most recent collaborations includes a publication in The Lancet Psychiatry outlining the substantial burden of untreated and under-treated mental health issues among cancer patients in China. Hall (senior author) and his co-authors from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Public Health and the NYU School of Global Public Health brought together data from a variety of longitudinal studies to recommend several innovative approaches to address cancer patients’ mental health care, including mental health training for oncology nurses and placement of mental health care providers in community health centers across China.

“My first thought when I received news about this award was to remember the countless mentors, collaborators, and trainees who have made my contributions possible, and all the more meaningful,” Hall said. “I hope that this award can raise awareness of the health needs of migrants globally, and in particular for Chinese rural-to-urban migrants, African migrants in China, and the Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers in China, with whom I worked.”

In Fall 2022, Hall will lead a new Center for Global Health Equity at NYU Shanghai, which aims at serving society and improving the health of diverse populations through innovative research. Check out the center's website for the latest research on global public health.