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Launching a Movement for Global Mental Health on World Mental Health Day

by Teri Robert

In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health established October 10 as World mental Health Day. The theme of this year's WMHD (October 10) is "Making Mental Health a Global Priority — Scaling Up Services through Citizen Advocacy and Action", and uses information from a Lancet Series to encourage renewed efforts for well-informed mental-health public policy advocacy at all levels in all countries.

Last year, the Lancet published a series of five articles on global mental health documenting the evidence for global mental health and focusing on low-income and middle-income countries. The last article of that series was a call to action for evidence-based packages of services for people with mental health disorders and a commitment to protecting human rights.

Now, one year after its landmark Series on Global Mental Health, The Lancet is, on World Mental Health Day (WMHD), publishing a Viewpoint announcing the launch of the Movement for Global Mental Health. The paper is written by Professor Vikram Patel, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and Professor Martin Prince, Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, UK — two of the key figures in the original Lancet Series — and colleagues. The authors state:

"Raising awareness of mental health is key to improving policies and practices, increasing access to services, and reducing persistent stigma."

Since the launch of the Lancet series in London in September 2007, there have been country-level launches in Australia, Brazil, Chile, and the USA, and a launch in India will take place on October 17, 2008. All of these events were attended by policymakers, consumer representatives, and mental–health professionals, and received wide media coverage. Specific examples of the progress attained in just one year can be seen in Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia:

  • In January 2008, Brazil created the Support Teams for Family Health Teams — with their purpose to strengthen the link between mental-health care and primary care by integrating the two.
  • The National Taskforce on Community Mental Health System Development in Vietnam was established in February 2008, with two aims — first, to produce national strategies on mental-health care for 2011-15, and second to encourage the Vietnamese Government to increase its budget for mental health-care by some US$2.00 per person per year (from a negligible $0.18 to $1.86), as recommended in the call to action in The Lancet Series.
  • The National Taskforce on Community Mental Health System Development in Indonesia was created in June 2008, with technical support from the Centre for International Mental Health, Melbourne, and funding from multiple donors. Its job will be to strengthen mental-health systems at district and provincial levels.
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