guterres advocates breaking down barriers in mental health care
In his message commemorating World Mental Health Day on October 10, Antonio Guterres the United Nations Secretary General emphasized the importance of mental health in individuals and communities worldwide. Recognizing that mental health plays a pivotal role in enabling people to lead fulfilling lives and contribute positively to society, the UN chief highlighted the need for global attention and action on this critical issue.
A Global Challenge: Mental Health Impacts Millions:
Statistics reveal that one in eight individuals worldwide grapples with a mental health condition. While mental health challenges can affect people of all backgrounds and ages, women and young people tend to be disproportionately impacted. Unfortunately, the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues often deter individuals from seeking the help and support they need.
UN and WHO Joint Efforts: A Path to Reform:
In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), the UN has released a comprehensive guide titled “Mental health, human rights, and legislation: guidance and practice.” This guide aims to assist countries in reforming their legislation to eliminate human rights violations and enhance access to high quality mental health care.
A Rights-Based Approach to Mental Health:
Central to this new approach is respecting the dignity of every individual and empowering them to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized transforming mental health services through a rights based framework. Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, underscored the need for radical change in addressing mental health issues.
A Call for Holistic Support and Equality in Care:
Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Tlaleng Mofokeng, called for developing innovative and holistic mental health policies. Addressing inequalities in mental health care delivery should be at the forefront of these policies. Mofokeng stressed that mental health problems can be exacerbated by discrimination, social exclusion, marginalization, criminalization, and exploitation based on gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, class position, migration status, or disability.
UN Special Rapporteurs: Independent Voices for Human Rights:
Special Rapporteurs, part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council. They are crucial in addressing specific country situations or thematic issues worldwide, acting independently from any government or organization.
Mental Health: A Universal Human Right:
World Mental Health Day is a platform for individuals and communities worldwide to unite under the theme “Mental health is a universal human right.” The day’s objective is to enhance awareness, knowledge, and collective action to promote and safeguard mental health as a fundamental human right for all.
In a world where mental health challenges affect millions, the global community must work together to ensure that mental well-being is universally recognized, protected, and supported. By doing so, we can pave the way for a healthier, more inclusive, and empathetic world where everyone can thrive.