From the WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 27 August 2020: FOCUS on Mental Health
27 August 2020
For many people, the lack of social interaction caused by the pandemic has had a profound effect on their mental health.
COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of millions of people, in terms of the anxiety and fear it has caused, and disruption to mental health services.
People in long-term facilities such as care homes and psychiatric institutions are at increased risk of infection.
Mental health professionals have themselves been infected with the virus; and some mental health facilities have been closed to convert them into treatment facilities for people with COVID-19.
Mental health was already a neglected health issue globally.
Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.
Yet relatively few people have access to quality mental health services.
In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all.
Stigma, discrimination, punitive legislation and human rights abuses are still widespread.
For this year’s World Mental Health Day, WHO, together with our partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, is calling for a massive scale-up in investments in mental health.
On World Mental Health Day, the 10th of October, WHO will for the first time host a global online advocacy event on mental health.
During this event—the Big Event for Mental Health—I will be joined by experts and household names from the worlds of music and sport to talk about what we can all do to improve our mental health – and you will hear their stories. Each and every individual has a story to tell about mental health.
I will also be joined by world leaders who will explain why they are investing in improving the mental health of the people they serve.
We will also show the incredible work being done, and what more needs to be done, to make sure that quality mental health care is available to everyone who needs it.