Global Mental Health

 “Let us recognize that there can be no health without mental health.”  -U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (2008)

Evidence has shown that mental health is fundamental to physical health, economic success, and general well-being. Yet, we know that mental health and substance use disorders account for approximately 10% of the total global burden of disease, and few countries devote resources to the promotion of mental health and to the prevention and treatment of these disorders. Across the globe, the treatment gaps for mental health and substance use disorders are large. As a result, many people who need care do not receive it. Further, people living with these conditions often suffer systematic discrimination in many facets of their lives. 

Helpful to understanding the scale and scope of the global mental health crisis is a series of papers that appeared in The Lancet in 2007. The series identified gaps in the evidence base for depressive disorders, alcohol and substance-use disorders, child and adolescent mental disorders, and psychotic disorders, with a focus on developing countries. Increased awareness of global mental health concerns in recent years has resulted int the integration of mental health interventions and promotion efforts in the field of international health and in the humanitarian and development world. The Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by the United National General Assembly in 2015, world leaders - for the first time - recognized the promotion of mental health and well-being and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse as health priorities. Specifically, Goal 3 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. World leaders have committed to “prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, including behavioral, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development.”

Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development 

The current #GAinFocus series examination of the Lancet Commission on Global Health and Sustainable Development (October 2018) and its potential impact for behavioral health and social justice. Be sure to look out for the emails included in the series and check out our page on the commission to learn more.  

Our Work on Global Mental Health

In 2016, the Global Alliance formed a task force to help us discern how we can best support efforts to promote mental health across the globe. In 2017, the Board of Directors for the Global Alliance approved a resolution on global mental health and substance use disorder developed by the task force. In 2019, the task force will be presenting a panel session at the Society for Community Research and Action's biennial conference, which is being co-sponsored by the Global Alliance.

Our Spotlight features research in AJO on global mental health.  

Want to learn more?

What can you do? 

  •  Learn more about the mental health challenges faced in countries across the globe and share what you have learned with others.
  •  Support organizations that address global mental health.
  •  Join in the World Health Organization's promotion of World Mental Health Day on October 10.