Last October 2nd, the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) -comprising the ministers of health of all the Member States- adopted the Strategy and Plan of Action on Mental Health, which can be considered a historical milestone of utmost importance.
The Strategy and Plan of Action embodies the experience gained in the
Americas, particularly over the last two decades, and expresses the commitment of the governments of the Region. It includes 5 strategic areas: 1) Development and implementation of national mental health policies, plans, and laws; 2) Promotion of mental health and prevention of psychological disorders, emphasizing the psychosocial development of children; 3) Primary health care-centered mental health services delivery. Determination of priority conditions and implementation of interventions; 4) Human resources development; 5) Strengthen capacity to produce, assess, and use information on mental health. The document ends with ten key recommendations to countries.
The Regional Strategy and Plan of Action is the outcome of a vast consultation process that took place during the first quarter of 2009, which included the ministries of health of the
States and other organizations, the Department of Mental Health of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO/WHO collaborating centers, PAHO technical programs, and a panel of experts.
Modern scientific progress has improved the comprehension, management, and prognosis of mental disorders, which together with political will, has made this an opportune time for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and its
States to place mental health in a prominent position on its program of work and to be able to successfully meet these challenges. This Strategy and Plan of Action map out the route to follow in the coming 10 years.