Geneva: As October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, World Health Organization Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh on Monday called on the member states in the region to intensify action to achieve access for all to quality mental health care, in line with the recently adopted Paro Declaration on universal access to people-centred mental health care and services. In a statement, the WHO regional director said that one out of eight people lived with a mental health condition globally.
Globally, before the COVID-19 pandemic, around 1 in 8 people lived with a mental health condition. Gaps in treatment were unacceptably large, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In the South-East Asia Region, an estimated 1 in 7 people lived with a mental health condition, and in countries where data are available, the treatment gap ranged from 70-95 per cent, she said.
The regional director also said that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost all areas of health, but few as profoundly as mental health.
In 2020, cases of major depressive disorder are estimated to have increased by more than 27 per cent globally, and cases of anxiety disorders by more than 25 per cent, adding to the 1 billion people who were already living with a mental disorder. In many countries, this occurred alongside widespread disruptions to mental health services. Between November and December 2021, more than 33 per cent of WHO Member States globally reported ongoing disruptions to mental, neurological and substance use services, Khetrapal said further.
In a bid to close remaining gaps, and to accelerate pre-pandemic progress, in September at the 75th session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia, countries of the Region committed to take bold, decisive action, unanimously adopting the Paro Declaration on universal access to people-centred mental health care and services.
The Paro Declaration aims to ensure that all people in the Region can access quality mental health care, close to where they live, without financial hardship, as per the statement.
The declaration places specific emphasis on the need to reorient and integrate mental health services into primary health care (PHC), complementing the new Regional Strategy for PHC, launched in December 2021.
The Declaration recognizes that mental health is a key determinant of social and economic development, an integral part of general health and well-being and that access to care is a basic human right.
It aims to help all countries of the Region build on and accelerate longstanding efforts to implement equitable mental health policies, laws, programmes and services, in line with the Region’s Flagship Priorities on preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases, strengthening emergency risk management and achieving universal health coverage.
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