Every year, April 7th is celebrated as World Health Day, a day to recognize and bring attention to various health issues and concerns.
Lead by the World Health Organization (WHO), this year’s theme, “Health for all,” emphasizes the importance of ensuring equitable access to healthcare services and facilities for all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location.
One of the critical areas of focus for WHO is mental health. Mental health has a direct connection to our overall health and well-being, and conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and productivity.
In response, the WHO developed a comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, which focuses on four main objectives.
· Strengthen global policies and resources to ensure the implementation of mental health services.
· Develop and implement a range of mental services that are integrated with primary healthcare and social care services.
· Implement strategies for the promotion and prevention of mental health, such as reducing risk factors, improving coping skills and promoting resilience.
· Strengthen information systems, evidence, and research for mental health.
Although the 2020 deadline for the Mental Health Action Plan has passed, the World Health Organization continues to prioritize mental health and has set new goals for mental health in its Global Program of Work 2023-2028.
Among the ongoing initiatives:
· The integration of mental health into primary healthcare. The WHO believes that integrating mental health into primary care can improve access to care for those with mental health conditions and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.
· Another important initiative of the WHO is the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which aims to scale up services for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in low- and middle-income countries.
Mental health is a critical component of overall health and well-being, and the World Health Organization’s initiatives to promote mental health, prevent mental health conditions and provide care and treatment for those with mental health conditions are crucial for improving global health outcomes.
As we continue to work alongside the WHO, let us all do our part to prioritize and promote mental health in our communities and beyond.