Why Mental Healthcare Is Important to Development

Mental healthcare is important to development. Last month, the World Health Organization adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan of 2013-2020 to emphasize the importance of global mental health and to establish goals pertaining to mental healthcare.  The Action Plan is the first ever to make mental health its primary concern.

The main objectives of the Action Plan are to “implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health”, provide necessary mental health care when needed, and to strengthen research for mental health.

The Action Plan was created due to the fact that much of global health care overlooks mental health problems as a serious concern. The World Health Organization states that “people with mental and psychological disabilities are a vulnerable group as a result of the way they are treated by society”.

Those with mental disabilities are more likely to face physical and sexual victimization, and often times have trouble with school performance and finding employment, leading to a higher risk of living in poverty. On a larger scale, a lack of adequate mental health care for those in need can lead to “reduced social capital” and “hindered economic development”.

In order to reduce the risk of those with mental disabilities living in poverty, the World Health Organization seeks to incorporate adequate mental health support into schools in addition to making opportunities for employment available to those with mental disabilities. While many development efforts focus on ensuring that physical needs are met, the importance of mental health must not be overlooked.  When adequate mental health care is available to those in need, the individuals affected, their families, and their communities experience improved development outcomes.

Jordan Kline

Sources: WHO, Forbes