World Mental Health Day (WMHD), which is held annually on October 10, spotlights the challenge of achieving mental health in an inequita- ble world. Its purpose is to draw attention to the importance of equitable access by the population to mental health and issue a call to raise awareness about mental health issues in the world.
An estimated one in four people will suffer from a mental disorder at some time in their life. Mental disorders increase the risk of other illnesses and contribute to both unintentional and intentional injuries. People with severe mental health conditions are more prone to premature death–up to two decades early–due to preventable physical conditions. Mental health conditions are also a risk factor for suicide, which claims more than 700,000 lives each year worldwide.
Access to quality mental health care is a human right. However, many peo- ple with mental health issues and psychosocial disabilities in the Region of the Americas lack access to care, receive poor-quality care, and suffer violations of their human rights. The treatment gap for some mental illness in the Region is as high as 80%. Lack of investment in mental health, the scarcity of human resources for mental health, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness remain serious obstacles to the delivery of effective treatment and care for all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened inequities in mental health in the Region. World Mental Health Day issues a call to join together for their successful elimination. It likewise promotes action by the authorities, health professionals, academia, and civil society to position mental health as a key element for achieving a healthy population.