Special Initiatives taken by WHO for Mental Health

 Special Initiatives taken by WHO for Mental Health

What is mental health? Why don’t we talk about mental health? Is physical health solely important for living a healthy lifestyle? Are there any initiatives taken for mental health? Let us find out.

Special Initiatives taken by WHO for Mental Health ichhori.com

What do we refer to when we talk about Mental Health? 

Mental health means emotional, social and psychological well-being. It plays a major role in how we think, act or feel. Our mental health determines our mental stability and help us handle stress or make choices. A person without any mental disorder is said to be a mentally healthy person.

Mental health is a severe issue that we always neglect. Physical health is considered very important, whereas mental health is always avoided. People in our country doesn’t give importance to mental health and thus, people suffer with mental illness quietly. Mental disorders do not only affect our lifestyle, it also affects our relationships and physical health. We can only refer a person as healthy when he/she has no physical or mental disorders. 

Are their any organizations taking care of mental health?

Yes! We are not alone in this. Several organizations and governments are playing an important role in forming policies for mental health. One such organization is WHO.

WHO- World Health Organization: 

World Health Organization is a specialized agency. It is a part of  United Nations which deals with international public health. Main areas of work for WHO are health systems, health throughout the life, communicable and non-communicable diseases, surveillance of diseases and their responses, and corporate services. 

World Health Organization works worldwide in order to:

  • Promote Health 

  • Serve the vulnerable

  • Keep the World Safe

  • To Protect People

  • Formulate Policies related to Health

  • Planning and Implementation of Policies related to Health 

In recent times there has been increase in the role of mental health in achieving global developmental goals. According to WHO, suicide is one of the leading cause of death amongst 15-29 years old. People suffering from mental disorders die a premature death due to preventable physical conditions. 

According to WHO, mental Illness or disorders account for more than 10.7% of the global disease burden. In developing or underdeveloped countries with low or middle income, more than 75% of people does not receive any treatment for their mental disorders. 

World Health Organization helps the government of various countries in promoting mental health and strengthening it. 

Policy and Aims for Mental Health:

Main aims and policies listed by World Health Organization for mental health areas follows: 

  • Promotion of Mental Health

  • Reduction of Mental Disorders

  • Proper Treatment of Mental Disorders

  • Development of Services for People

  • Promotion of Human Rights

  • Promotion of Psychological Aspects of General Care

  • Reduction of Mortality Rate Associated with Mental Illness

  • Reduction of Suicides

Recommendations by WHO for Developing a Successful Mental Health & Action Plan:

Success needs good plans and strong policies. WHO has made some key elements in order for development of mental health policy and action plans. WHO has taken major initiative in developing countries by initiating plans and policies for mental health. The key elements developed by World Health Organization are:

  • Policies and action plans must be updated with proper data and evidences.

  • Stakeholder consultation and negotiation should be done in order to ensure common vision.

  • Roles and responsibilities of different sectors must be identified clearly.

  • Objectives of policies, planning, strategies, etc. must be prioritized for mental health. 

  • Policies and plans must be properly monitored and implemented timely. 

Special Initiative by World Health Organization for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health 

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in mental health disorders. Mental health plays an important role in development of a nation or even global development. One of the major cause for developing any mental disorder is depression. Suicide is the second leading cause for death amongst people. People with mental health disorders die at a comparatively younger age. If not treated, mental health eventually leads to other disorders and ultimately death by any way. Many mental health disorders can be treated easily at low cost, if diagnosed at the right time. Timely diagnosis and treatment are very necessary in order to remain mentally fit and healthy. 

Mental Health issue was identified by WHO as an area of action which should be accelerated. Mental health is a basic need just similar to physical health. Therefore, WHO established Special Initiative for the Mental Health for 5-year period from 2019 to 2023. This special initiative action plan was adopted in May, 2012 by the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly. 

Vision of World Health Organization: A world in which mental health is valued, promoted, protected, mental disorders are prevented and persons affected by these disorders are able to exercise the full range of human rights and to access high quality, culturally- appropriate health and social care in a timely way to promote recovery, all in order to attain highest possible level of health and participate fully in society and at work free from stigmatization and discrimination. 


Goal: The goal of this initiative started by WHO is to provide quality and affordable mental health care to 100 million more people by the year 2023. As per the planning, this initiative is to be implemented in 12 countries at first. Out of these 12 countries, only 6 countries have been identified by now which are:

  • Bangladesh

  • Jordan

  • Paraguay

  • The Philippines

  • Ukraine 

  • Zimbabwe

Assessments have already been implemented in these six countries in order to get a broad picture about the situation of mental health. Issues such as  mental health disorders, needs and main challenges are to be identified whereas opportunities and availabilities are to be listed. Strategies have been developed on the basis of assessments done initially. 

Objectives: The action plan has the following objectives: 

  1. To strengthen the leadership for mental health;

  2. To strengthen the governance for mental health;

  3. To provide properly integrated and responsive mental health care;

  4. To provide social care services in community-based settings; 

  5. To implement strategies formulated for the promotion of mental health; 

  6. To keep in check the prevention of various mental disorders;

  7. To strengthen information systems in order to get proper evidences and checked facts.

Facts and Statistics related to Mental Health: 

  • According to estimation by WHO, 7.5 per cent Indian suffer from mental health disorder and by the end of the year 2020 around 20 per cent of people may suffer from the same. 

  • As per numbers, around 56 million Indians suffer from depression whereas 38 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. 

  • Half of the mental illness is developed by the age of 14 years whereas 75 per cent illness is developed by the age of 24 years. 

  • More than 70 per cent youth in juvenile justice system is diagnosed with mental disorder every year.

  • Suicide is most common in transgender adults.

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in various countries amongst people aged between 15-29 years.

  • Around 10 per cent of worldwide population suffers from mental disorder out of which only 9.3 per cent are males, whereas 11.9% are females. 

  • In mental health disorders, most people suffer from anxiety disorder.

Why don’t we talk about mental health?

It is a big question, isn’t it? Usually, people prefer to silently suffer with their mental illness rather than talking about it or getting a proper treatment. We as a society have failed to make the people with mental disorders feel at home and at ease. 

World Health Organization is helping world getting free from mental illness and so is our duty to do the same. Mental health is as important as anything and everything in our life. We have to talk about it and help other people get free from mental disorders. We need to create an environment where people feel safe and not shameful. 

Because, Mental Health is important. 







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