Ask the Experts: The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

November 2014

About the FundaMental SDG campaign

2015 will see the end of the Millennium Development Goals and the launch of a new global development agenda, called the Sustainable Development Goals#FundaMentalSDG is an initiative aiming to include a specific mental health target in the post-2015 development agenda, which is currently being drawn up by the UN. There is a short window to advocate for this inclusion, but there can be no health without mental health and there can be no substantial development without including mental health in the post-2015 agenda.

More information on the campaign is available here.

Share your questions, comments and ideas

Sign up as a MHIN member to post your questions, thoughts and suggestions in the comments below, or tweet your them to @MHInnovation using #FundaMentalSDG or #post2015. Throughout the month of November, Nicole Votruba and Graham Thornicroft, two of the main advocates for the FundaMentalSDG campaign, will be answering your questions on this Ask an Expert page on what the Sustainable Development Goals are, why mental health should be a priority now and what you can do to help the campaign. 


New question from one of our followers on Twitter:

"Why is the campaign calling for inclusion of those particular indicators and how were these chosen?"


The FundaMentalSDG Steering Group consists of 25 people directly involved in global mental health policy from across very many countries and organisations. These include, for example, groups with a strong service user orientation such as the World Federation for Mental Health, and the Movement for Global Mental Health, through to practitioner groups such as the World Psychiatric Association, the World Medical Assocation, and the world family physician association WONCA. Together members members of this Steering Group considered the question, if we are to propose one mental helath target and two specific, measurable indicators, what should they be? The indicators chosen by the FundaMentalSDG Steering Group are fully aligned with the WHO Global Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, to set binding and effective measurements to increase service coverage and investment, particularly in low and middle income countries.

Another one of our Twitter followers would like to know: "What made you start this campaign? Many of us work in the field, but very few of us realized worth of a campaign like this, until you began it! So, how did you come up with the idea to start campaigning for this?"

From working with colleagues in many countries worldwide, Graham Thornicroft became increasingly aware that the United Nations discussions to date have not sufficiently recognised the global impact of mental health problems, which cause, for example, 23% of all disability in the world. Together with Professor Vikram Patel, he wrote an editorial in the BMJ in August this year to summarise the case for a specific mental health target in the Sustainable Development Goals, and shortly after a consortium of many organisations came together to support these proposals. This initiative is now gaining momentum and these calls are gaining strength and support across the world.

We are aware that time is very short for us to press the mental health target in the ongoing SDG negotiations at the UN member states. But we are very happy to notice increasing support from many directions, not least in the words of the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in London last week, where he stressed the importance of including mental health in the post-2015 agenda.

New question from mental health workers at our "My Data Counts" training:

Will adoption of a mental health SDG result in more resources for conducting high-quality monitoring and evaluation of mental health programmes?



The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are currently being negotiated between the UN member states. In case they decide on including mental health in the overall health goal, and other goals which are related to mental health, or even with a specific mental health target, this does not necessarily mean that there is a guarantee for extra funds. But when looking at exemplars of other health areas like HIV/Aids, malaria, or tuberculosis in the course of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the in 2000 enacted predecessors of the SDGs, the development suggests that the MDGs have assisted those sectors to raise extra funds. These investments were across a range of direct care costs, research, monitoring and evaluation. So more focus on mental health in the SDGs will lead to more focus on mental health overall.