UNITED NATIONS - Ensuring mental health of people worldwide, which is essential to guaranteeing overall health, requires increased investment, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said in a statement released here Monday to commemorate World Mental Health Day.
"There is no health without mental health," said Ban. "Mental disorders are major contributors to illness and premature death, and are responsible for 13 percent of the global disease burden. With the global economic downturn -- and associated austerity measures -- the risks for mental ill-health are rising around the globe."
At the UN and around the world, World Mental Health Day was commemorated on Monday with the theme of "investing in mental health."
"We cannot expect improvement in global mental health statistics unless we increase financial and other support for promoting mental health and providing adequate services to those who need them," said Ban. "Deaths, disability and distress caused by mental disorders need to find their rightful place in the public health agenda."
Ban cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO), showing that the proportion of health budgets devoted to mental health is insufficient.
"Most low- and middle-income countries spend less than two percent, and many countries have less than one mental health specialist per one million people," he said.
Yet despite the lack of expenditures, according to Ban, the knowledge needed to treat these mental illnesses exists, and can be used effectively.
"Feasible, affordable, and cost effective measures for preventing and treating mental disorders exist and are being implemented, for example through WHO's Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP)," he said. "However, if we are to move decisively from evidence to action, we need strong leadership, enhanced partnerships, and the commitment of new resources."
Since its launch in 2008, mhGAP has been working to help countries build services to treat mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders by educating healthcare workers about such disorders.
The secretary-general called for further investments in the mental health area.
"Let us pledge today to invest in mental health," he said. "The returns will be substantial." (Xinhua)