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Lack of investment in mental health leaves millions without access to services as movement kicks off

Updated: Oct 9

Joint release by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health


Photo credit: Dudley CCG


A global social media challenge to get the world moving on mental health is launched today with a call for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, are encouraging people from all countries to support a global movement calling for greater investment in mental health.


The #MoveforMentalHealth challenge is asking people around the world to post videos showing what they do in support of their mental well-being  ̶  whether it be dancing, walking, doing yoga, cooking, painting or something else entirely, on their favourite social media platforms, using the hashtag #MoveForMentalHealth


Social media platforms such as Tik-Tok, Facebook and Instagram are supporting  the #MoveforMentalHealth challenge and helping kickstart broader conversations about mental health, and the importance of investment.

Messenger apps are providing support too. On World Mental Health Day, WHO will launch a digital stress management guide on the Whatsapp chat platform. Based on the stress management guide Doing what matters in times of stress, the digital guide includes short, easy-to-follow guided exercises to help reduce stress.  In addition, Messenger will be launching a new sticker pack designed with the support of WHO, to facilitate conversations around mental health.

“As we continue to live through a global pandemic, we need movement on mental health, perhaps more than we have ever needed it before. We need to move for our own mental health, the mental health of our families, friends and colleagues, and more importantly, so that there is a massive increase in investment for mental health services at national and international levels." 

said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

The magnitude of the mental health burden faced around the world is not being matched by the investment it requires. The extraordinary increase in mental health needs  ̶  with the added challenges of COVID-19  ̶  is taking its toll on already overburdened and under-resourced mental health services. Countries spend on average only 2% of their health budgets on mental health. Despite some increases in recent years, international development assistance for mental health has never exceeded 1% of all development assistance for health.

“Our world wasn’t set up to respond to the growing mental health needs before COVID-19, and it certainly isn’t now. That’s why now more than ever we need the world to move for mental health, and as individuals, communities, businesses, governments and funders we must prioritise action on, and investment in mental health.”

said Elisha London, CEO and Founder of United for Global Mental Health.

Close to one billion people globally have a mental disorder and those with severe mental disorders tend to die 10 -20 years earlier than the general population. Suicide is claiming the lives of close to 800 000 people every year  ̶   1 person every 40 seconds  ̶  and is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years. Relatively few people around the world have access to quality mental health services, especially in low- and middle-income countries where more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all. 


"Mental health is affected by many factors and circumstances. It touches on everything  ̶ poverty, equality and development  ̶  which is why we need to ensure greater investment and greater access to mental health for all.''

said Dr Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation for Mental Health.

Other events taking place around this year’s World Mental Health Day include:

Big Event for Mental Health

On World Mental Health Day (Saturday 10 October), WHO is inviting the global community to take part in The Big Event for Mental Health, an unprecedented online advocacy event that will call for increased investment in mental health at all levels.

The Big Event is free and open to the public and will be broadcast on 10 October from 16:00 to 19:00 CEST on WHO’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn channels and website. For updated information about the Big Event, including the latest line up of performances and participants, visit the Big Event web page. To learn more about World Mental Health Day, visit WHO’s campaign page.

World’s first virtual March for Mental Health

The world’s first virtual March for Mental Health will live stream 9-10 October and over the course of 24 hours mental health experts, campaigners, advocates, and people with lived experience from more than 17 countries will be sharing their stories as part of a global momentum to drive change and investment in mental health globally. For more information and to sign up and join the March visit www.marchformentalhealth.com

The Grand Celebration

The Global Mental Health Fest'20 organized by the World Federation for Mental Health will bring together people from different communities, age groups, organizations and institutions from across the world. The stage will be open for various perspectives to blend and consolidate, promoting the essence of unity and solidarity as we work together to establish mental well-being as our universal right. More information from www.wmhd2020.com

Note: To access the stress management guide on Whatsapp, click here

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. WHO’s goals for 2019-2023 are to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and to provide a further billion people with better health and well-being. @WHO

United for Global Mental Health

United for Global Mental Health brings together the global mental health community with governments, funders and campaigners to help make sure everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to in support of their mental health. The not-for-profit organization was launched at the UN in September 2018. www.unitedgmh.org @UnitedGMH

The World Federation for Mental Health

The World Federation for Mental Health is an international membership organization founded in 1948 to advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health. The Federation was the initiator of World Mental Health Day. https://wfmh.global/ @WMHDay 

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