UN Seeking Global “Mental Health” Plan

By:  Alex Newman
01/30/2012
       
UN Seeking Global “Mental Health” Plan

A coordinated effort to increase the United Nations’ role in the fields of mental health and substance abuse is now underway, with experts, national governments, and global bureaucracies lobbying for the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to get more involved. Critics of the schemes, however, blasted the notion of a global mental-health regime.

 

A coordinated effort to increase the United Nations’ role in the fields of mental health and substance abuse is now underway, with experts, national governments, and global bureaucracies lobbying for the UN World Health Organization (WHO) to get more involved. Critics of the schemes, however, blasted the notion of a global mental-health regime.

On January 20, the WHO Executive Board released a resolution entitled “Global Burden of Mental Disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response at the country level.” The document calls for, among other measures, collaboration between national governments and the global health body in developing a “comprehensive mental health action plan” for the world.

The resolution asks the WHO Director-General to draft a “comprehensive” plan which includes model legislation and policy measures for member states. The program would encompass everything from education and human rights to health-care delivery and employment, with the WHO boss instructed to integrate all relevant sectors of society and government into the “comprehensive” scheme.

Just a few days before the WHO released its controversial resolution, a team of academics published a peer-reviewed paper in the journal PLoS Medicine calling for exactly what the global health body envisions: An international regime to deal with mental health. Led by Vikram Patel of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Judith Bass from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the authors even called for a world “People's Charter for Mental Health."

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