mhGAP Forum 2013

On the 7th of October 2013, WHO held the fifth edition of the mhGAP Forum in Geneva. We were invited to this event as a partner of the program, along with Members States, international organizations, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, opened the discussion with the launch of the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Four major objectives were set forth:

  1. To make leadership and governance for mental health more effective
  2. To provide comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings
  3. To implement strategies for promotion and prevention
  4. To strengthen the information system, evidence and research regarding mental health

Representatives from Member States had the opportunity of sharing their planned activities to implement the action plan. It was concluded that the provision of services is not enough and that special attention should be placed on the prevention and promotion of mental health. This is in line with the vision behind all of our projects.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the intervention of Xiangdong Wang, WHO Regional Adviser for the Western Pacific, who provided some compelling stories from his work experience. One such story I am sure we will never forget was that of a little girl whose parents couldn’t afford the treatment she required for her mental illness. Not knowing what to do or who to turn to, her parents took the desperate choice of starving her to death and free her from her suffering…

Unfortunately, we believe that until specialized services are not accessible to everyone, this kind of stories will continue occurring. To address this situation mhGAP is scaling up care for priority mental, neurological and substance use conditions. This way people will receive affordable and proper treatment in their communities.

To conclude the event, civil society representatives called upon the States to mobilize the financial resources needed to implement the action plan. Indeed, words are not enough and such a commitment is essential for the current situation to change.