UN chief calls for making mental health global priority

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on Sept 20, 2022. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for making mental health a global priority and urged actions to promote universal quality mental health care.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres notied that anxiety and depression alone cost the global economy an estimated US$1 trillion per year

Nearly 1 billion people live with a mental health condition. But mental health remains one of the most neglected aspects of health care, Guterres said in a message marking the World Mental Health Day, which falls on Oct 10.

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"Some countries have only two mental health workers for every 100 000 people. The social and economic repercussions are profound," he said, noting that anxiety and depression alone cost the global economy an estimated US$1 trillion per year.

The UN chief stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of health services to offer quality care to those in need, in particular young people.

Stigma and discrimination must be addressed along with breaking down the barriers that stop people from seeking care and support, he said.

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Guterres also underscored the importance of preventing the root causes of mental health conditions, including violence and abuse, adding that the UN is committed to working with partners to promote mental wellbeing.

"As we mark World Mental Health Day, let us make it a global priority and act urgently so that everyone, everywhere has access to quality mental health care," he said.