Your Excellency Jeanette Kagame,
Your Excellency Minister Biruta,
Your Excellency Minister Momen,
Your Excellency High Commissioner Tasnim;
The Honorable Secretary General of Scotland,
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, dear colleagues and friends!
I am honored to join you today for this critical discussion.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on mental health — damage we don’t fully understand yet.
The WHO estimates that already prevalent conditions such as depression and anxiety have increased by more than 25% since the start of the pandemic, adding to the nearly one billion people who are already living with mental disorders.
Our study showed that the most affected groups were women and young people, especially those aged 20 to 24.
And people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders, especially severe psychiatric disorders such as psychosis or bipolar disorder, had a higher risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization, severe illness, and death when infected with COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the rise in mental health problems has coincided with disruptions in mental health services.
Nearly half of the countries surveyed by WHO reported disruptions in psychiatric, neurological and substance abuse services.
One particularly disturbing finding from our study is that mental health services for the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and children, were among the hardest hit by the disruption.
Life-saving services such as emergency psychiatric care, overdose treatment programs, and suicide prevention programs have also been disrupted.
At the same time, COVID-19 has highlighted gaps in the ability of health systems around the world to address mental health issues.
Investment in mental health remains low and the stigma surrounding it remains high.
In times of crisis, when we need more and better mental health services, the world is held back by decades of underfunding.
Even before the pandemic, mental health services in most countries were too limited.
But crises are also opportunities for innovation. We found that many communities around the world were implementing creative solutions to improve access to mental health care, including telehealth, promoting self-care approaches, and shifting responsibilities.
More and more countries are also using online platforms for capacity building, remote deployment and service delivery.
Now that many countries are working to restart service provision, there is an opportunity to improve the situation by scaling up community mental health services and integrating mental health care into primary health care as part of each country’s path to universal health care. coating.
Countries should also work to improve the financial protection of people with mental illness so that they are covered by health insurance and benefit programs.
On average, there are only two mental health workers for every 100,000 people.
The WHO World Mental Health Report highlights the latest scientific evidence, provides examples of good practice from around the world, and shares people’s experiences with mental illness.
The report calls for three fundamental changes:
First, to deepen the value and commitment we place on mental health.
This means valuing mental health as a key component of health and well-being, increasing investment in mental health services, implementing evidence-based policies, and involving people with mental illness in all aspects of society to reduce stigma and discrimination. .
Second, change the environment that affects mental health.
This means taking action to address mental health risk factors, including violence, abuse and neglect; improving the development of young children; and banning pesticides, which account for one fifth of all suicides worldwide.
And third, develop and strengthen community mental health services.
This means building networks of community-based services moving away from psychiatric detention and integrating mental health services into primary health care.
It also means looking at the mental health component of other health conditions and ensuring that mental health is integrated into education, work, justice and housing policies.
Using examples of positive change from around the world, this report shows that every country, regardless of its position, can significantly improve the mental health of its adults and children.
The personal stories in this report show what effective medical and social support looks like, how it can lead to recovery, and how much depends on the individual and social context.
The links between mental health and public health, human rights and socioeconomic development mean that transforming mental health policy and practice can bring real, significant benefits to individuals, communities and countries around the world.
Because, ultimately, there is no health without mental health.
I thank you.