WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan adopted by World Health Assembly


Harry Minas and Jan-Paul Kwasik


WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan adopted by World Health Assembly


In late May, at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva, member states of the World Health Organization adopted the final draft of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Click here to read a background document, prepared by the MGMH, on the Mental Health Action Plan within the non-commincable disease and post-2015 development context.

The Plan sets four major objectives;


  • Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health,
  • Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings,
  • Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health and
  • Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health. 

It is intended to provide a framework for national governments, development agencies, academic and research institutions, and civil society to restructure, reinvigorate and invest in their mental health services.

Broad, yet objective and measurable indicators and targets serve to focus development on key priorities such as increasing service coverage, updating mental health policies and laws, reducing rates of suicide, and improving data collection on core mental health indicators that can be used to evaluate levels of implementation, progress and impact.

Six cross-cutting principles and approaches will guide countries and have a strong focus on ensuring provision of quality services, and empowerment and protection of persons with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities;


  • Universal health coverage,
  • Human rights,
  • Evidence-based practice,
  • Life-course approach,
  • Multisectoral approach and
  • Empowerment of persons with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities.

The Plan is sensitive to local and cultural issues, requiring that it is adapted at regional level in order to take into account region-specific situations.

The background to the successful adoption of the Plan can be found here on the WHO website.


The Plan was adopted in the context of a continuing dialogue regarding the role of health in the post-2015 development agenda. The World Health Assembly also adopted the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013–2020, a resolution on disability mentioning mental health services, and development of the WHO Action Plan for the Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019. A discussion of a report on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda highlighted the need to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases and ensuring universal health coverage and access.


The Movement for Global Mental Health Secretariat has produced a summary of the post-2015 agenda context, with a focus on mental health. Click here to read more...

Many MGMH members would have voted in the UN-sponsored online portal worldwewant2015.org/ for mental health to be on the post-2015 agenda. This consultation process contributed to the Report of the Global Thematic Consultation on Health which did highlight mental health exclusively and in addition to other noncommunicable diseases as a key challenge and opportunity post-2015. 

Shortly after the World Health Assembly, the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons released their final report on the post-2015 development agenda. This addressed non-communicable diseases within the goal of “ensuring health lives”, however stopped short of highlighting mental health exclusively as a priority area of need. 

There remain opportunities for individual and institutional members of MGMH to ensure that mental health is part of the implementation strategies. The UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a consultation to gather critical analysis from civil society on the four post-2015 reports. The online consultation can be accessed at the website http://www.worldwewant2015.org/NGLSconsultation and the deadline for submissions on the reports is 12 July 2013. 




Publication source: 
Movement for Global Mental Health
Publication date: 
4 June 2013