The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, on Oct 10, is increased investment in mental health. Why invest, and why now? The answer is simple. At the best of times, good mental health is needed for a society to thrive. During a pandemic, good mental health is more important than ever. Without a focus on mental health, any response to COVID-19 will be deficient, reducing individual and societal resilience, and impeding social, economic, and cultural recovery.
Regrettably, despite commitment from world leaders to include mental health care in universal health coverage as part of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, this pledge was not translated into reality. Universal health coverage would provide a lifeline for those trapped in the vicious cycle of economic hardship and poor mental health, where poverty is both a contributing factor to mental health problems and a barrier to accessing services that might help. Investment needs to increase in quantity and in terms of quality. For example, great strides have been made in the delivery of telepsychiatry over the past 10 months; individuals who receive these services must be instrumental in their future use and development. This involvement will ensure that telepsychiatry is used in an intelligent, targeted manner that provides appropriate support, rather than being a cost-saving, one-size-fits-all measure that risks exacerbating health inequalities or inadvertently reinforcing social isolation.
The economic argument for investment in mental health services is clear and has been made many times, but there is also an ethical imperative for investment, both to redress historic wrongs done to vulnerable communities and to right current inequities. On a global scale, this strategy involves the empowerment of individuals and communities, the admission that high-income countries have much to learn from the innovations of low-income and middle-income settings, and the recognition of the central role of mental health in global health security now and in the future. Investment must be about more than just money if mental health services are to be made fit to address the challenges of the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 era and to become resilient against future public health crises. There must be an investment of thought, time, and a commitment to change.
Published: 10 October 2020
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original post: Source link