Washington D.C., September 27, 2022.- Ministers of Health and other high-level authorities of the countries and territories in the Americas approved the Policy for Improving Mental Health in the framework of the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in Washington D.C., USA.
At the presentation of the Policy for Improving Mental Health, Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of the Department of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, stated that the policy "promotes the expansion of mental health services at all levels of care to ensure progress towards universal health coverage; it also highlights a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to improve mental health through strategic partnerships with diverse stakeholders and high-level political commitment.”
Ministers of Health emphasized the importance of this Policy and the urgency of achieving access to mental health services in the framework of Primary Health Care, as well as strengthening the prevention of mental health problems.
The policy includes 5 strategic lines of action: 1) building leadership, governance, and multisectoral partnerships and integrating mental health in all policies; 2) improving the availability, accessibility, and quality of community-based services for mental health and substance use; 3) advancing promotion and prevention strategies and activities throughout the life course; 4) reinforcing the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency contexts; and 5) strengthening data, evidence, and research.
The Pan American Sanitary Conference urged the Director of PAHO/WHO to provide support to Member States to strengthen capacities that contribute to the implementation of the policy and the achievement of its strategic lines of action; continue prioritizing and facilitating the integration of mental health and substance use services into all COVID-19 emergency response efforts by the Pan American Health Organization as well as other health initiatives across the Organization.
In the same way, the Pan American Sanitary Conference urged all Member States to promote increased investment, both financial and human, in mental health care and build stronger, more resilient mental health systems in COVID-19 pandemic; improve and scale up equitable and comprehensive community-based mental health care for the entire population, and further integrate mental health into all levels of care to ensure progress toward universal health coverage.
The purpose of the Policy for Improving Mental Health is to provide strategic and technical guidance to PAHO Member States for the development and implementation of initiatives to strengthen mental health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pan American Sanitary Conference is the supreme governing authority of the Organization and meets every five years to determine its general policies.