Experts Call for Renewed Global Commitment to Mental Health

The United Nations needs to make a "renewed global commitment to mental health" according to mental health experts.

Dozens of doctors, academics, policy advisors, advocates, and service users issued a joint statement, published by the independent non-profit organization Salzburg Global Seminar, following the Salzburg Global session New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health held in December in Salzburg, Austria.

The five-day event, held at Schloss Leopoldskron, brought together more than 70 mental health care experts, as well as patients and their families, to examine strategies for providing better behavioral and mental health care, focusing on human rights, patient-centeredness, existing resources and cultures in both developed and developing countries, new systems of care, and new technologies.

During program, participants raised the point that the United Nations post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have a critical part to play in setting priorities for the development and investment in healthcare systems, prompting many of the international experts in attendance to collectively draft their Salzburg Statement following the December event. 

The Statement calls on the UN and its Member States to make a “renewed global commitment to mental health, with clear and specific targets and indicators, particularly with a focus on mental health treatment coverage, strengthening community health, outreach and peer support.”

Upon the issuing of the Statement, event participant and professor of community psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, Graham Thornicroft said: “As mental health problems contribute so much towards disability and mortality worldwide, it is right that the United Nations fully recognizes this by agreeing strong mental health targets and indicators in the new Sustainable Development Goals.”

Paul Burstow, UK Member of Parliament and author of the UK government’s mental health strategy, who also attended the Salzburg event added: “Now is the time for the United Nations to fully reflect the impact of mental health problems worldwide by agreeing to clear and challenging mental health targets and indicators in the new Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Statement is now being shared with policy-makers and practitioners around the world. 

Salzburg Global Statement on New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care

Recommendations of Salzburg Global Fellows

We, the participants of the Salzburg Global session New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care (listed below):

IRecognize the central importance of mental health in the United Nations post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

II. Accept the case for fully including mental health in the SDGs given:

  1. The global prevalence of mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities, with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health problems in their lifetime;
  2. The excessive treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries, where often over 90% of people with mental disorders receive no effective treatment;
  3. The global under-financing of the mental health sector, and the critical shortage of mental health services;
  4. The breach of the universal right to health for up to 600 million people with mental illness across the world each year;
  5. The growing global impact of mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities, which contribute 23% of the total global burden of disease;
  6. The often long-lasting disability caused by mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities, and the high impact of the excess mortality, and suicide;
  7. The global crisis, of human rights violations, social exclusion, stigma and discrimination of persons with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities; 

III. Accept the importance of fully including mental health in the SDG targets and indicators, which will be necessary to provide reliable information, and measurable and comparable data, for policy makers, service providers, and service users, to enhance mental health systems and services worldwide;

IV. Regret that, despite growing global awareness, until now there has been a lack of substantial progress in fully including mental health in the United Nations SDGs.

We therefore call upon the United Nations, and its Member States, for a renewed global commitment to mental health, with clear and specific targets and indicators, particularly with a focus on mental health treatment coverage, strengthening community health, outreach and peer support.

Download the Salzburg Statement as a PDF

Named signatories: Alvaro Aravena Molina, Community Mental Health Center Rinconada, Chile; Alvaro Arenas Borrero, Clinica La Inmaculada, Colombia; Ilirjana Bajraktari, Kosovo; Peter Bartlett, University of Nottingham, UK; Paulina Bravo, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile; Paul Burstow, House of Parliament, UK; July Caballero, Peruvian National Institute of Mental Health, Peru; Dawn Carey, Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, USA; Joshua Chauvin, Canada; R. Chellamuthu, M.S.Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, India; Trina Dutta, USA; Byron Good, Harvard University, USA; Shpend Haxhibeqiri, University Clinical Centre of Kosovo, Kosovo; Jonida Haxhiu, Institute of Public Health of Albania, Albania; Prince Bosco Kanani, Rwanda NGO’s Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion, Rwanda; Gloria King, Rainbow Healing, USA; Bernadette Klapper, Germany; John Lotherington, Salzburg Global Seminar, UK; Hafsa Lukwata, Ministry of Health, Uganda; Marie-Josee Maliboli, Rwanda Biomedical Center, Rwanda; Lisa Marsch, Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, USA; Maria Elena Medina Mora, National Institute on Psychiatry Ramon de la Fuente Muniz, Mexico; Susan Mende, USA; Nancy Misago, Rwanda Biomedical Center / Ministry of Health, Rwanda, Martha Mitrani Gonzales, National Institute of Mental Health HD-HN, Peru; Anna Moore, UCL Partners, UK; Albert Mulley, Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, USA; Gloria Nieto De Cano, Asociacion Colombiana Personas con Esquizofrenia y Familias, Colombia; Angela Ofori-Atta, University of Ghana School of Medicine & Dentistry, Ghana; Sally Okun, PatientsLikeMe, USA; Emmanuel Owusu Ansah, The Ministry of Health of Ghana, Ghana; Merritt Patridge, Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, USA; Thara Rangaswamy, Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), India; Veronique Roger, USA; Rodrigo Salinas, Universidad de Chile, Chile; Ronald Stock, USA; Ezra Susser, Columbia University, USA; Graham Thornicroft, Kings College London, UK; Chris Underhill, BasicNeeds UK, UK; Jose Miguel Uribe, Colombia; Dale Walker, Oregon Health & Science University, USA; Peter Yaro, BasicNeeds Ghana, Ghana; Cynthia Zavala, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile; Ericka Zimmerman, University of Charleston, USA

The Salzburg Global Seminar program “New Paradigms for Behavioral and Mental Health Care” was held December 7-12, 2014, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. The event was sponsored by the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The 72 participants included clinicians, academics, researchers, advocates, service users (patients) and family members. The program was chaired by Robert Drake, M.D, Ph.D., Andrew Thomson Professor of Psychiatry, Community and Family Medicine, and Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, NH, USA.

A full list of speakers and further session information can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/536

Contact: Louise Hallman, Editor, Salzburg Global Seminar lhallman@salzburgglobal.org

Salzburg Global Seminar is an independent non-profit organization based in Salzburg, Austria with offices in Washington, DC, USA, London, UK and Vienna, Austria. Founded in 1947, its mission is to challenge current and future leaders to tackle issues of global concern. In addition to programs covering culture and the arts, education, global citizenship, social justice and financial reform, in 2010, Salzburg Global launched a multi-year series – Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century – to crystallize new approaches to global health and health care in the face of emerging challenges affecting us now and set to continue on through the coming generation.

More information on Salzburg Global Seminar can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org

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Salzburg Global Seminar is an independent non-profit strategic convenor founded in 1947 to challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. Its interconnected program clusters – Imagination, Sustainability, Justice – support the evolving needs of changemakers across generations, sectors and scales to accelerate breakthrough thinking and collaboration. We work with the world’s leading public and private organizations and philanthropic investors, leveraging our network of over 25,000 Fellows across 160 countries. Salzburg Global’s programs are convened at Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria. This 300-year old palace provides an inspiring retreat and an internationally-renowned space for openness to address complex challenges.

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Quotes

“As mental health problems contribute so much towards disability and mortality worldwide, it is right that the United Nations fully recognizes this by agreeing strong mental health targets and indicators in the new Sustainable Development Goals.”
Graham Thornicroft, professor of community psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London