Global Mental Health and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals

Families, Systems and Health 36 (2):225-229 (2018)
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Increased awareness of the importance of mental health for global health has led to a number of new initiatives, including influential policy instruments issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). This policy brief describes two WHO instruments, the Mental Health Action Plan for 2013–2020 (World Health Organization, 2013) and the Mental Health Atlas (World Health Organization, 2015), and presents a comparative analysis with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015). The WHO’s Action Plan calls for several specific objectives and targets, with a focus on improving global mental health governance and service coverage. In contrast, the UN’s SDGs include only one goal specific to mental health, with a single indicator tracking suicide mortality rates. The discrepancy between the WHO and UN frameworks suggests a need for increased policy coherence. Improved global health governance can provide the basis for ensuring and accelerating progress in global mental health.



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Kelso Cratsley
American University

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