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Health promotion
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On May 13, 2020 the UN Secretary General addressed the urgent need for investment in mental health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a historic policy brief: COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health.

The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic will likely cause a long-term upsurge in the number and severity of mental health problems with specific populations groups likely to show high degrees of COVID-19-related psychological distress. Additionally, people caught in fragile humanitarian and conflict settings risk having their mental health needs overlooked. The underinvestment in mental health needs to be redressed urgently to reduce immense suffering and mitigate long-term social and economic costs to societies around the world.

The UN policy brief advocates for the following actions:

  • Apply a whole-of-society approach to promote, protect and care for mental health
  • Ensure widespread availability of emergency mental health and psychosocial support
  • Support recovery from COVID-19 by building mental health services for the future

Learn more:

  • Policy Brief: COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health
  • UN Press Release: UN leads call to protect most vulnerable from mental health crisis during and after COVID-19
  • WHO Press Release: Substantial investment needed to avert mental health crisis
  • Video address by UN Secretary General António Guterres (YouTube)
  • Video address by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Twitter)

© United Nations, World Health Organisation, 2020.

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