Commonwealth leaders, health professionals and civil society met for a special event to mobilise a Commonwealth-wide awareness campaign and policy interventions to tackle mental health challenges post COVID-19.
The theme is “Rethinking Mental Health: A Commonwealth Call to Empower, Care and Transform”.
The First Lady of Rwanda H.E Jeanette Kagame said “It goes without saying, that mental health transcends the health domain. Poor mental health breaks down our communities, by disrupting the wellness of families, poisoning our socio-economic development.
“This hemorrhage of resources, this costly human tragedy, makes one thing clear; mental health is the bedrock upon which the welfare of our communities lies. We cannot allow this foundation to crack, without us joining forces, to solder it”.
To improve mental health in Commonwealth member states, the First Lady went on to urge governments to invest more financial resources in mental health research, prevention, skills training and treatment; eradicate mental illness stigma; and deploy effective collaboration between mental health experts across the Commonwealth to build resilient structures of mental health support. “There is no health, without mental health. There is no development, without mental health. There is no brightness in our shared future, without mental health. And, there is no Commonwealth without Common Mental Health!” the First Lady concluded.
‘’No health without mental health”
In a special keynote address, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in the capacity of health systems around the world to address mental health conditions. Investment in mental health remains low, and the stigma surrounding it remains high.
“Now, as many countries work to resume services, there is an opportunity to build back better, by scaling up the provision of community-based mental health services and integrating mental health into primary health care, as part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.
“The links between mental health and public health, human rights and socio-economic development mean that transforming policy and practice in mental health can deliver real, substantive benefits for individuals, communities and countries everywhere. “Because ultimately, there is no health without mental health.”