Who We Are
Member Sections of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) play an important role in engaging members of the organisation, promoting mental health and wellbeing and its diversity, and educating the public about issues in mental health.
This policy is to be read in conjunction with the WFMH Bylaws and the Sections document of December 2020 and will come into effect with the WFMH 2021-2023 Board Cycle.
The WFMH's Sections document advises that all topics of interest in the field of mental health advocacy are considered and established by the members of Section.
The objectives of the Sections are to:
- Advocate and promote study, research, training and advances in a specific subject area in the field of global mental health.
- Establish exchanges with other national and international organizations that share the objectives of the WFMH in regard to each section's subject area.
- Organize scientific meetings about topics of interest relevant to the Section, or host webinars to enhance viewers understanding of mental health issues relevant to that section.
- Organize symposiums, workshops, and other scientific activities, having to do with the Section's subject area, at the World Congresses of the WFMH and its regional conferences.
- Develop educational programs and compose guides and publications.
- Develop proposals for adoption as consensus statements and make known the WFMH's position on issue/issues that is the concern for that Section.
- Hold intra-sectional activities and meetings to promote interdisciplinary relationships and connections between different areas in the field of mental health.
- Submit quarterly reports of activities against objectives to the Secretary General and an annual report to the Board of the WFMH.
Principles for Good Governance
Members of each Section will apply to the WFMH Section Committee for approval to establish the proposed section.
The WFMH Section Committee comprises:
- President Elect (Chair);
- Vice-President Programme Development
- One Nominated Immediate Past Board Member.
The President shall be an ex-officio member of this Committee.
The Committee will review all applications and will accept or reject applications.
Section Members shall be committed WFMH Members or represent a WFMH Member Organisation and maintain principles and each Section will uphold the following:
- Meet the mission and values of WFMH.
- Consider key messages on mental health issues.
- Section governance.
- Organisational culture and professionalism.
- Use of the WFMH brand, which must be approved in writing in accordance with the organisation Bye-Laws for every occasion of use.
- Protect the organisation's reputation from scandal, misrepresentation, public disgrace, legal, financial, data or industrial issues, compliance or copyright.
- Mental health promotion.
- All fundraising approved in advance and conducted through the WFMH Secretariat.
- Low carbon and cost neutral activities, where possible.
- Management of actual or perceived risk.
Section Plan of Action
Members of the Section will develop a Plan of Action for their Section.
The Plan of Action is to:
- Identify the objectives of the group.
- Mental health issue/s to be addressed
- Information about proposed events/webinars or processes to be taken
- Clear and manageable timeframes to meet the objectives
- Actions required with responsibility for each action
- How the proposed events will be evaluated and improved
- Describe what feedback mechanisms will be available to Section Members.
- Any associated costs and how it will be funded (Any cost associated with activities, must show its origin).
- Submit an Action Plan annually for review by the Section Committee for approval or rejection
- Submit a summary of progress against action plan every six months
Section Members are to receive a copy of this Policy upon joining a Section.
Section Members agree to:
- act honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of WFMH as a whole.
- be committed WFMH Members in good standing or represent a WFMH Member Organisation in good standing.
- observe the boundaries set by this policy in relation to governance responsibilities that sit with the WFMH Board.
- actively contribute to the discussions and actions and commit time when needed to Section work outside of meetings, and follow-through on agreed tasks.
- encourage healthy debate in which different perspectives and views are heard and respected.
- engage in respectful, ethical, equitable and clear communication between Section Members, and with the WFMH.
- make decisions that are procedurally fair, ethical and equitable, avoiding discrimination based on age, gender, race ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language or socio-economic status.
- put the mission and goals of the organisation ahead of individual interests.
- actively declare and manage any perceived, actual or potential conflicts of interest.
- be timely and efficient in processes and decision making and attend promptly to issues that are raised.
- maintain privacy and confidentiality where relevant.
- mentor younger or less experienced Section members so as to build individual capacity and skill development and support succession planning.
- accept appropriate responsibility for own behaviour and consider the needs of Members, and the WFMH while avoiding behaviour that may reasonably be perceived as harassing, bullying or intimidating.
- share responsibility for member performance and continually identify areas for improvement.
- acknowledge when they are no longer able to contribute to the Section
- The list of section member's names and countries will be listed and will not contain honorifics or titles
The WFMH understands that as a volunteer organisation Section Members may not be able to attend all meetings or contribute to Section activities. Members who have not been active with a Section for greater than one year and who have not advised the Chair of their discontinuation will be removed from the list of Members names on the WFMH website.
Members as Decision Maker
Members will make decisions ethically as a group and have a single voice on issues once decisions have been made. Members will draw on expert advice and encourage robust debate in reaching its decisions. As far as possible, Members will reach decisions by consensus but where this is not achievable or efficient a majority decision will be carried forward with the voice of each Member having equal weight.
Length of Appointments
For the proposal of a new Section or maintenance of an existing Section there must be a minimum of six active Members.
The Secretariat will support, if requested, the election of Officers of the Sections.
The membership of a Section is for two years, aligned with the terms of office of the newly elected WFMH Board. All members can submit their preference for re-joining a Section every two years once the Section is approved. The Section positions of Chair, Co-Chair and Secretary are for two years with the possibility of one further term.
The Members of the Section will elect the Section Chair, Section Co-Chair and Section Secretary.
A quorum for all Section meetings, determining activities, the development or review of the Plans of Action and decisions shall be 50% +1 in attendance of the Section Members.
Procedure - Election of Section Positions
- Discussions with Section Members about an upcoming election to commence every two years aligned with the WFMH Board Election cycle.
- A Section Member who is not applying for a position will be selected to be the Facilitator for the election by the Section members at a meeting or via email.
- The Facilitator to give two to four weeks notice when calling for nominations to the three positions.
- Section members may self-nominate or be nominated by another Section Member.
- Section Members will vote by email or at a meeting if there is more than one nomination for a position.
- The election of Chair, Co-Chair and Secretary to be determined one month before the Voting Member Assembly to allow for handover when the new WFMH Board is installed.
Section Positions and Responsibilities
Responsibilities of each position are as follows:
1. Section Chair
- The Chair must have proven experience in the subject area of the Section they lead.
- Provide leadership and a clear understanding of the Section's goals and purpose, be an effective communicator, and encourage mutual respect and constructive debate.
- Have a productive working relationship with the Secretary General and President, while ensuring the effectiveness and productivity of the Section.
- Chair the Section meetings and be responsible for ensuring the meeting runs to time.
- Ensure accurate minutes are developed and distributed by the Section Secretary in a timely manner.
- Review and approve the draft minutes before distribution to Members and the Secretary General.
- In consultation with Members develop an agreed Plan of Action and send to the Secretary General of the WFMH within 3 months of the Section's formation and six monthly thereafter.
- Review with members each year the agreed Plan of Action and send the updated Plan to the Secretary General of the WFMH.
- Provide a written report of any changes to the Plan of Action to the Secretary General and President of the WFMH, who shall consider and approve or not work being proposed by the Section.
- Develop an annual Section report on the work and activities of Section Members. The report is to be sent to the Secretary General at least one month before the AGM for tabling at the Board Meeting of the WFMH.
2. Section Co-Chair
- Assist the Chair in all of the above duties
- Undertake the responsibilities of the Chair if the Chair is absent or unable to fulfil the role.
- Liaise with the Secretary General of WFMH and maintain a current list of active Member's names on the relevant WFMH Section page.
3. Section Secretary
- Ensure all Section Members are current members of the WFMH.
- Distribute the Agenda and previous Section meeting minutes to all Members including the Secretary General, at least one week before the meeting.
- A reminder with Zoom link details to be sent the day before the meeting.
- Accept responsibility for recording the discussions and actions from Section meetings and ensure all Section meetings have minutes documented.
- Forward the draft copy of the minutes to the Section Chair for review and approval, before distribution to Members and the Secretary General.
- Ensure an accurate Register of Section Members and their contact details is maintained.
- Submit the required report on the activities of the Section to the Secretary General for tabling at the WFMH Board meeting.
All Section meetings will have an agenda and result in an agreed record of decisions and/or actions.
- The agenda is to consist of standard items that are clearly defined items for discussion, including date, international time, meeting number, Zoom link, welcome, apologies, establishment of quorum, minutes of previous minutes, matters arising, actions undertaken, specific items for discussion, presenters, any other business, and the date of the next meeting. See Attachment A: Section Agenda Template
- Discussion on the management of actual, potential or perceived risk is a standard agenda item at all meetings.
- Any required reading must be sent with the agenda at least 5 business days before the meeting. This will ensure that Members have time to review materials ready for discussion.
- The order of the agenda is to be followed at the meeting to ensure consistency of information.
- All documents being distributed to Members must be dated, preferably in the footer. This is best practice and particularly important given multiple versions of a document may need to be reviewed.
- Minutes will be recorded and produced for each Section meeting.
- The minutes are to be distributed to each Section Member and the Secretary General within a timely manner.
- The minutes will be objective and factual, capturing the general discussion of each item at the meeting. This ensures that an absentee member can understand what the discussions were, decisions made, actions to occur, responsibilities for each action and the timeframes.
- Meeting minutes must contain the full name and the organisation and/or experience of each Member attending.
- Members who submit an apology for non-attendance must be acknowledged at the meeting, with the minutes to include the names of people who are absent.
- Each minute shall have an Action Table that identifies the item number, what the item is, what action is required, who is responsible, the deadline and whether the task is completed or an update.
Communication with Members
Communication with and between Members is encouraged. Specific request for information may be sent by the Chair, Co-Chair or Secretary, as determined by the group.
Emails to Members will be clear, conciliatory and concise with clearly identified requests, will abide by rules of email etiquette and have an appropriate timeframe for response. Members are expected to respond timeously to emails and all requests.
Any materials sent outside of meetings, for example draft documents for review must clearly state this in the email subject line with the deadline provided.
Contact with the WFMH
The Chair, or Co-Chair as delegate is responsible for the direct contact with the Secretary General and the President of WFMH. The Secretary General will then include other Board members or stakeholders as deemed appropriate.
It is preferred that a single email with all items or issues for consideration are listed, with any proposed recommendations and specific timeframe provided.
Sections will follow the internationally recognised dispute resolution guidelines and process. These are:
- All grievances will be handled impartially, free of repercussions or victimisation and resolved as quickly as possible.
- The process will be undertaken in a respectful, supportive and affirming manner.
- Section Members are to work to resolve the issue themselves through discussions with the people involved. If this is unsuccessful then a representative from the WFMH may assist in the resolution of the grievance.
- All parties will remain impartial to the grievance and will be given an opportunity to explain their perspective of the grievance.
- Privacy and confidentiality will be maintained and access to information is only provided to the people directly involved in the grievance or while resolving the grievance.
- A formal complaint in writing is to be sent to the President and Secretary General of WFMH for all grievances of a serious nature that include harassment, bullying, discrimination or an act that impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of a Section Member.
- Vexatious complaints may be considered as malicious and a form of harassment and will therefore not be tolerated.
WFMH asserts legal and beneficial ownership rights over all intellectual property of its materials and documentation. WFMH may assign its rights, title and interests in intellectual property owned by it to third parties, where relevant.
An item written by a member author is the opinion of that author but does not automatically reflect the opinion of the organization.
A breach may constitute a criminal act under legislation and could also be subject to civil action by an individual or group.
This policy will be reviewed and amended every two years line with WFMH election cycle. or as required.
Attachment A: Suggested Section Agenda Template
Meeting type: Face to face / online
If online provide joining link:
- Attendance and Apologies
- Declaration of Conflicts of Interest
- Minutes of the last meeting
- Actions and matters arising from the last meeting
- Feedback from last activity
- Planning next activity - for example, participants, presenters, moderator, Q&A chair, IT support, risks, costs, flyer development and promotion
- Any Other business
- Date of the Next Meeting
- Refer to the WFMH Webinar Policy for specific information on the development, implementation and processes for webinars on behalf of the WFMH.
- Good governance principles require Section Members to operate within a culture of disclosure, recognition and active management of conflicts as they arise to ensure transparency, accountability, ethical behaviour and sound decision making.