According to the World Health Organization, as of 2019, 970 million people worldwide suffer from mental health issues. The Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act — which is currently being voted on in Congress — will draw political attention to the widespread mental health crisis that is occurring across the globe.
5 Things to Know About the MINDS Act
- The MINDS Act Is the First to Put Mental Health at the Center of US Foreign Policy. While mental health is an issue that affects hundreds of millions of people, US foreign assistance has never specifically focused on improving mental health. At the moment, less than 1% of global health funding is allocated for funding mental health programs, suggesting that this bill is important and necessary.
- It Has Bipartisan Support. The bill has support from both major American political parties. It was introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate and by Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07) and Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC-02) in the House.
- The MINDS Act Will Emphasize the Need to Support At-Risk Populations. Research has shown that 1 in 5 people living in conflict-affected countries suffers from mental health issues. The legislation will have a specific focus on those living in these areas as well as vulnerable populations such as women and children.
- The MINDS Act Will Assist Millions of People Living in Poverty. At least 2.5 million adults living below the poverty line experience mental health issues. According to the Psychiatric Times there “is strong [evidence] for a causal relationship between poverty and mental health,” suggesting that these mental health problems can make it difficult for individuals to escape poverty thus creating an “intergenerational cycle of poverty and poor health.”
- The MINDS Act Will Provide People With Resources They May Not Have Otherwise Had Access To. 75% of people who live in low-income and middle-income countries and suffer from mental health issues do not receive any type of treatment. The MINDS Act serves as an opportunity to assist those who cannot access resources and programs that will provide them with the help they need.
Putting the MINDS Act into law is just one step in the fight to advocate for mental health. Many nonprofit organizations are advocating for increasing mental health funding and resources worldwide. For example, World Vision, a supporter of the MINDS Act, is an advocacy group with a variety of goals, one of which is providing mental health support to children. Another organization working to advocate for mental health is United For Global Mental Health whose mission is to “raise awareness, reduce stigma and increase support for mental health around the world.” Between legislation such as the MINDS Act and organizations such as World Vision and United For Global Mental Health, hopefully, the ongoing mental health crisis will soon come to an end.
– Nicole Alexander
Photo: Wikimedia Commons