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, we're close to being achieved.
The World Health Organization’s new Mental Health Atlas released Friday paints a picture of the world's failure to provide people with the
mental health services they need, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic
is highlighting a growing need for mental health support.
latest edition of the Atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, shows the increased attention given to mental
health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality
mental services that are aligned with needs.
Issued every three
years, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around
the world on mental health policies, legislation, financing, human
resources, availability and utilization of services and data collection
systems. It is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards
meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.
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,”
said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health
Organization said in a statement “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.”
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, we're close to being achieved.
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. And 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.
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. Steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of
mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in
the capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators.
the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has
scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around 2 per cent.
Even when policies and plans included estimates of required
human and financial resources, just 39 per cent of responding countries
indicated that the necessary human resources had been allocated and 34 per cent
that the required financial resources had been provided.
There was, however, an increase in the
percentage of countries reporting that treatment of people with specific
mental health conditions like psychosis, bipolar disorder and depression is included in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes from
73 per cent in 2017 to 80 per cent or 55 per cent of Member States in 2020.
encouraging was the increase in countries reporting mental health
promotion and prevention programmes, from 41 per cent of Member States in 2014
to 52 per cent in 2020. However, 31 per cent of the total reported programmes did not have
dedicated human and financial resources, 27 per cent did not have a defined
plan, and 39 per cent had no documented evidence of progress and/or impact.
global median number of mental health workers per 100 000 population
has increased slightly from nine workers in 2014 to 13 workers per 100
000 population in 2020. However, there was a very high variation between
countries of different income levels, with the number of mental health
workers in high-income countries more than 40 times higher than in
The new data from the Mental Health Atlas shows
us that we still have a very long way to go in making sure that
everyone, everywhere, has access to quality mental health care,” said
Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance
Use at WHO.
“But I am encouraged by the renewed vigour that we saw from
governments as the new targets for 2030 were discussed and agreed and
am confident that together we can do what is necessary to move from baby
steps to giant leaps forward in the next 10 years.”