Today marks a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged countries to increase investment in mental health services on a massive scale. He was speaking during a media briefing on the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ghebreyesus says the pandemic has taken a big toll on the mental health of millions of people and has highlighted the urgency of increasing investment in this area of health. “Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. Yet relatively few people globally have access to quality mental health services. It is time for this to change.”

He adds that: “It is time to increase investment in mental health services on a massive scale, so that access to quality mental health services becomes a reality for everyone.  Tomorrow, WHO will host the Big Event for Mental Health, an online global advocacy event that will bring together international and national leaders, advocates, sports people and artists. Together, let’s Move For Mental Health.”

Research shows that one in three South African adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime and the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) has joined the global call by the World Health Organisation and its partners for scaled-up investment to improve access to mental health, regarded as one of the most neglected areas of public health worldwide.

SASOP has called on the South African government and health authorities to increase training for mental healthcare workers and professionals and improve geographic distribution of mental healthcare facilities.

Discussion on access to mental health facilities in SA: