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About World Mental Health Day 2021

President's foreword

Dr Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation for Mental Health
Gabriel Ivbijaro

World Mental Health Day, a programme of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), provides us with the opportunity to raise awareness about global mental health concerns, disparities, inequities and social injustices which prevail and impact on the mental health of all. The WFMH first launched World Mental Health Day in 1992 with the support of the World Health Organisation and Carter Center as active partners for this global event. World Mental Health Day creates the opportunity for everyone to call for action and advocate for an equitable mental health dispensation for all global citizens. It provides the global community with an opportunity to come together and raise our concerns and advocate for solutions and redress.

This year's theme "Mental Health in an Unequal World: Together we can make a difference" was chosen by a global vote reflecting the feelings, views and concerns of the global community about the position of mental health in our world today.

Historically, mental health has been less favoured and under-prioritised creating huge treatment gaps and disparities in mental health care. Inequalities in mental health have deprived many people with a lived experience of mental disorders from living fully integrated and dignified lives. The relationship between equity and mental health is well understood however little has been done to address the inequities and disparities. The world is increasingly polarised, with the wealthy becoming wealthier while the number of people living in poverty notably increasing. The increase in poverty and its devastating social determinants for mental health has been further exacerbated by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Growing inequalities due to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, lack of respect for human rights and, stigma and discrimination against people with mental health conditions have created visible societal divide and injustices. Such inequalities have had a direct impact on peoples' mental health in every country.

This theme chosen for 2021 will highlight that mental health care and the inclusion of persons with mental disorders in all spheres of life remain unequal. It is a well-known fact that 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health care at all and access in high income countries is not much better. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed those social determinants of mental disorders and inequalities in our society which result in the negative consequences for mental health. Health inequities are grossly unfair and unjust often violating human rights and fails to protect of the most vulnerable. The inequalities in mental health care can no longer be ignored. We require regional, country and individual commitment to address the harm caused by the layers of systemic and historical inequalities and injustices which impact of the mental health of all.

The excellent contributions received for this year's WMHD educational materials will provide us with the necessary information, insight into the challenges and disadvantages caused by these inequalities and will assist in strengthening and recommending strategies and calls for greater equity.

All our efforts and collaboration in raising awareness on WMHD will unite us to place the spotlight on our global concerns. This is our moment to coherently create global awareness and move forward the solutions. Mental health is everyone's business and together we have a responsibility to make a significant difference and create a world where there is mental health equity, equality and social justice for all. A world in which every global citizen is protected, respected and able to live their lives with dignity.

"Achieving health equity requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care." Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2019)

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