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The Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, aiming at promoting mental well-being, preventing mental disorders and reducing their burden, was approved during the annual Health Assembly that took place in Geneva between 20-28 May 2013.

Health systems are failing worldwide in satisfactorily dealing with the burden of mental disorders. In low and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with severe conditions receive no treatment; for high-income countries, that range is reduced to a still dramatic 35% to 50%, with the global annual spending on mental health less than $2 per person. These terrible statistics can be found in a March 2012 report by the World Health Organisation Secretariat that was submitted to the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly for consideration by the member states. This opened a consultative process period with civil society, international partners and member states, resulting in a draft report that was discussed at the Sixty-sixth session of the World Health Assembly. After some amendments were suggested, the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 was approved on May 25 2013.

The Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 principal purpose is “to promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights and reduce the mortality, morbidity and disability of people with mental disorders” by relying on six principles: universal health coverage, compliance with human rights, scientific evidence-based practice, life-course approach policies and plans, multisectoral response and empowerment of persons with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities. The Action Plan is structured in the following 4 objectives, for each of which several actions for members, for the Secretariat and for international and national partners are proposed:

  • Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health.
  • Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
  • Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
  • Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.

For each of these objectives, the Action Plan provides a series of indicators that member states need to monitor in order to report progress on the implementation of the proposed actions, as the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly has requested to the WHO Secretariat for the Sixty-eighth, Seventy-first and Seventy-fourth World Health Assemblies.

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