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

Statement from the Fourth Global Mental Health Summit

Nothing About Us, Without Us - Voices from the Global South

held on 28th-29th November 2015

The Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai hosted the 4th biannual Global Mental Health Summit (GMHS) between 28th and 29th November in collaboration with The Public Health Foundation of India, The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) as a part of the Movement for Global Mental Health (MGMH). The MGMH was founded in 2008 to take forward the neglected agenda of mental health in the world, and has since been working to raise the profile of mental health through the global platform of an interactive website (www.globalmentalhealth.org) and the work of local activists in different countries. 

The biannual summits, held in different parts of the world for the past 4 years have presented an opportunity for multiple stakeholders from the mental health sector to come together, share experiences and learn from one and other.

The focus of this year’s two day Global Health Summit, themed “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, was driven mainly by persons living with mental health issues and disabilities, from different social, cultural and educational ecosystems. The summit was kick started by Prof Asha Banu, TISS who introduced the summit to the audience and put forward the agenda of the summit. Dr Manish Jha, Dean, School of Social Work, TISS extended a hearty welcome to all participants. Prof Vikram Patel, co-director, Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries, and adjunct professor at Public Health Foundation of India, India, took the stand next and spoke about the right to care and right to dignity for users of mental health and the need for users, caregivers and mental health professionals to come together and dialogue about the changes needed in the care and services globally. Dr Vikram Gupta, director, BALM addressed the audience and spoke at length about the need to cut across the many barriers faced in the care for mental health users.

Day 1 of the summit saw participation from users, service providers and mental health professionals who shared their experiences not only through dialogue but also using interactive mediums of dance, theatre, poetry and more. The day closed with the screening of the film Astu, which told the story of Mr Shastri, a retired Sanskrit professor who in due course suffers with Alzheimer's and goes missing. The second day of the summit started with a discussion on the film by veteran film and theatre actor Mohan Agashe and continued on to a panel discussion ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ moderated by Tasneem Raja and Ketki Ranade where users shared their experiences of living with mental health issues and Mental health policy group member Mr Akhileshwar Sahay spoke about the need to have a single voice regarding mental health in the country in order to exact policy change at the national level. The second day also saw posters being presented by various stakeholders elucidating the many achievements and challenges in the field of mental health.

After a session of academic presentations by mental health researchers and professionals, the day came to a close on a positive note with a short presentation by girls from The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai who shared their experience of launching a school level peer-support group 'Reach Out' for students and adolescents dealing with stress, peer pressure, substance abuse, body image and more. It was followed by screening of the film ‘Come with me’.

The Way Forward:

This summit brought together a large number of users and caregivers who had previously no opportunity to attend or share in a summit of this magnitude. All organizers and participants unanimously agreed that this is only a first step in creating inclusive spaces in the mental health sector, and more such events and networking opportunities need to be organized by different stakeholders. In his valedictory session, Dr S Parasuraman, director, TISS also suggested that many such events should be organized across different regions by multiple stakeholders, in which TISS will be happy to participate. He emphasized the need for documentation of best practices and partnerships between academia and field to expand the human resources for mental health.

The participants were delighted to see new faces talk about mental health which was suggestive of wider participation. All in all the two day summit was a huge success and a truly global initiative that cut across borders and brought various stakeholders together for a common cause and saw involvement from across sectors, with participation from organizations working in sectors such as homelessness, trafficking, disability presented on mental health implications and relevance of mental health for their work.

On behalf of the MGMH: PHFI, The Banyan, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM), & TISS