The World Health Organization (WHO) joined two other global mental health organizations to call for a worldwide investment in mental health on Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day.
Citing mental health as one of the most neglected areas of public health, WHO joined United for Global Mental Health and The World Federation for Mental Health to call on countries to increase their investments in mental health. The organizations will kick-off their “Move for mental health: let’s invest” in September.
“World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social, and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”
The activities will start on Sept. 1, with the president of the World Federation for Mental Health launching 45 days of awareness-raising activities, the 2020 World Mental Health Day Campaign Educational Material “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access,” which will include a Call to Action, a global online discussion forum, and an art exhibit.
On Oct. 9, the groups will encourage people around the world to participate in a virtual march, live-streamed for 24 hours, through the Speak Your Mind campaign. The march will feature those who have lived experiences with mental health issues, mental health leaders, and influencers from civil society groups and will help to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Finally, ON Oct. 10, WHO will host a global online advocacy event on mental health, showcasing the work its staff is doing around the world to reduce mental illness and the harmful use of alcohol and drugs.
According to the groups, mental health is one of the most neglected areas in public health, with close to 1 billion people living with a mental disorder, 3 million people dying every year from alcohol abuse, and one person dying every 40 seconds by suicide. The groups said the COVID-19 pandemic would only exacerbate the problem.
At the same time, the groups said, relatively few people around the world have access to quality mental health services. In low and middle-income countries, more than 75 percent of people with mental, neurological, and substance use disorders receive no treatment and face stigma, discrimination, punitive legislation, and human rights abuses. COVID-19 has further diminished access to care as it has disrupted health services around the world.