Health policy brief: Global mental health and the United Nations' sustainable development goals

Fam Syst Health. 2018 Jun;36(2):225-229. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000329. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Introduction: Increased awareness of the importance of mental health for global health has led to a number of new initiatives, including influential policy instruments issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).

Method: This policy brief describes two WHO instruments, the Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020 (World Health Organization, 2013) and the Mental Health Atlas (World Health Organization, 2015), and presents a comparative analysis with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015).

Results: The WHO's Action Plan calls for several specific objectives and targets, with a focus on improving global mental health governance and service coverage. In contrast, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals include only one goal specific to mental health, with a single indicator tracking suicide mortality rates.

Discussion: The discrepancy between the WHO and UN frameworks suggests a need for increased policy coherence. Improved global health governance can provide the basis for ensuring and accelerating progress in global mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Global Health / standards
  • Global Health / trends
  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / trends*
  • Sustainable Development / trends*
  • United Nations / organization & administration
  • United Nations / trends