Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October:
Around the world, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. And depression is now recognized as a leading cause of illness and disability among children and adolescents.
All of this was true, even before COVID‑19. We are now seeing the consequences of the pandemic on people’s mental well‑being, and this is just the beginning. Many groups, including older adults, women, children and people with existing mental health conditions are at risk of considerable medium- and long‑term ill health if action is not taken.
Addressing mental health is central to achieving universal health coverage. It deserves our commitment. Too few people have access to quality mental health services. In low- and middle‑income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with mental health conditions receive no treatment at all. And, overall, Governments spend on average less than 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health. This cannot go on.
We can no longer ignore the need for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. We must act together, now, to make quality mental health care available for all who need it to allow us to recover faster from the COVID‑19 crisis.