The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need.
In a statement made available on Saturday, it said it happened at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighting a growing need for mental health support.
“World misses most 2020 mental health targets; extension of WHO Mental Health Action Plan to 2030 provides new opportunity for progress reading time, four minutes (1003 words).
“The latest edition of the atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs,” the global health agency said.
According to WHO, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, issued every three years.
Others are legislation, financing, human resources, availability and utilisation of services and data collection systems.
According to the global health body, it is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.
“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment.
“We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health,” it quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, as saying.
The statement said that none of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, were close to being achieved.
It said that in 2020, just 51 per cent of WHO’s 194 member states reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80 per cent target.
It said that only 52 per cent of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80 per cent target.
WHO noted that the only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10 per cent, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan.
It said that steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators.
It said that, however, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around two per cent.