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Mental health: the world's forgotten crisis

Time (GMT +01) 09:30 11:30

Mental health: the world's forgotten crisis

Related content: Prioritising mental health, UNA-UK article by Jessica Mackenzie


Kevin Watkins - Executive Director, ODI


Keynote speaker

Alastair Campbell - Ambassador for Time to Change and Alcohol Concern; patron of MayTree suicide sanctuary; No. 10 Director of Communications for Prime Minister Tony Blair



Dixon Chibanda - Honorary Research Associate, King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, and Senior Consultant Psychiatrist in Harare, Zimbabwe

Foday Sawi Lahai - Former First Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone

Jessica Mackenzie - Research Fellow, ODI




Around the world mental health disorders affect one in ten people at any given time and one in four of us over a lifetime, and often it is the most vulnerable in society who suffer in silence. The scale of the problem goes beyond those living with mental health problems, impacting families, care-givers and communities. Yet nine out of ten of those people living with mental disorders do not receive the basic treatment they need to lead healthy, productive lives. 

Despite the scale of this forgotten crisis it is chronically underfunded, especially in developing countries where less than 1% of all financial aid provided for health is spent on mental health.

In 2015, the world took a huge step forward by including mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Governments pledged to reduce premature mortality by one third by 2030 through promoting mental health and well-being, to tackle treatment of substance abuse and to achieve universal health coverage. To achieve their SDG targets, all governments will need to make mental health a priority in both policies and budgets. Many large countries including India, Nigeria and China have recently developed new mental health policies and the issue is gaining more coverage. But there is a long way to go to tackle this crisis.

This #GlobalChallenges debate focuses on how we address and make progress on mental health around the world. What are the most cost-effective and innovative ways to make a real difference? How can we measure progress? And what will it take to ensure that mental health becomes a top priority for governments between now and 2030?

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