The world missed most of the 2020 mental health targets, and has failed 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, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released on Friday.
The Mental Health Atlas report, released ahead of the World Mental Health Day on October 10, includes data from 171 countries. It showed that despite increase in attention given to mental health in recent years, it is yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs.
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.
Only 52 per cent of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, yet well below the 80 per cent target.
Reduction in the rate of suicide by 10 per cent, was the only target met, but even then, only 35 countries had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan, said the report released every three years.
“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,” WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 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,” he added.
On the other hand, adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws saw a steady progress.
However, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health was still around 2 per cent. And only 25 per cent of countries met all the criteria for integration of mental health into primary care.
But, about 80 per cent countries in 2020 included several mental health conditions in national health insurance or reimbursement schemes — up from 73 per cent in 2017.
Further, the global median number of mental health workers per 100,000 population increased slightly — from nine workers in 2014 to 13 workers per 100,000 population in 2020. The number was more than 40 times higher in high-income countries than in low-income countries.
In 2013, WHO endorsed a comprehensive mental health action plan and targets for 2020, which has now been extended to 2030, the report said.
It includes new targets for the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency preparedness plans, the integration of mental health into primary health care, and research on mental health, the report said.