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As the COVID-19 pandemic highlights a growing need for mental health support, there has been a global failure to provide people with the services they need, a report from the World Organization has found. health (WHO).

Released on Friday, the latest edition of the Atlas of Mental Health ‘paints a disappointing picture, showing that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has not yet resulted in a scaling up of mental services. quality aligned with needs.

“Extremely concerning”

“It is extremely worrying that… good intentions are not met by investments”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Managing Director of the WHO noted.

“We need to heed this red flag and act on it and dramatically accelerate the increase in investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health. “

“Investments in mental health data and in strengthening services are needed so countries can rebuild better jobs COVID-19[female[feminineSaid Dr Tarun Dua, WHO Unit Head, Department of Mental Health and Addiction, when the report was released in Geneva.

The cost of a low investment in community health services is too high, she added, saying mental health, neurological and addiction services were the most disrupted health services during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has provided us with a new opportunity to think about services, their equitable distribution and prevention programs, so it’s an opportunity to rebuild better… Lost productivity costs a trillion dollars a year, so we should investing, as for every dollar invested, the return is five dollars, ”added Dr Fahmy Hanna, WHO Department of Mental Health and Addiction.

2020 targets missed

According to the report, which includes data from 171 countries, none of the goals for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in communities, promotion and prevention of mental health, or the objectives of strengthening information systems were not close to being achieved.

In 2020, only 51% of WHO’s 194 Member States reported that their mental health policy or plan complied with international and regional human rights instruments, well below the target of 80%.

And only 52 percent of countries met the target for mental health promotion and prevention programs, also well below the 80 percent target.

The only target achieved for 2020 was a reduction in the suicide rate by 10%, but even then only 35 countries reported having a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan, according to the report.

Massive inequalities

Although gaps exist globally, steady progress has been seen in the adoption of policies, plans and laws, as well as improvements in the ability to report regularly over the years on a range of basic mental health indicators, according to the report.

Despite this, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has hardly changed in recent years, still hovering around 2%.

The Mental Health Atlas 2020 also shows massive inequalities in the availability of mental health resources and their distribution between high and low income countries and between regions.

More encouraging has been the increase in the number of countries reporting mental health promotion and prevention programs, from 41% of Member States in 2014 to 52% in 2020.

Decentralized care is slow

Decentralization of mental health care to community settings has long been recommended by WHO.

However, the report found that more than 70 percent of total government spending on mental health was allocated to mental hospitals in middle-income countries, compared to 35 percent in high-income countries.

This indicates that centralized mental hospitals and institutional hospital care still receive more funds than services provided in general hospitals and primary health care centers in many countries, according to the report.

New goals for 2030

The global targets reported in the Atlas of Mental Health are taken from the document Mental health action plan, which contained targets for 2020.

This plan has now been extended until 2030 and includes new targets for the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency preparedness plans, the integration of mental health into health care primary and mental health research.

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