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IoPPN backs campaign to make mental health a UN development goal

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London has today pledged its support to the #FundaMentalSDG initiative aiming to include a specific mental health target in the post-2015 development agenda. 

The initiative is committed to the principle that there can be no health without mental health, and no sustainable development without including mental health into the post-2015 development agenda.

In high income countries only about one quarter of people with mental illness receive care. In low income countries fewer than one in ten do so. Mental health problems are responsible for almost a quarter of all the disability in world. Effective and cost-effective treatments exist yet the poorest countries dedicate just 0.5% of their health budgets to mental health. 

On 19th July 2014, the United Nations draft of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included an overall health goal: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. 

A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Professor Graham Thornicroft from the IoPPN at King’s and Professor Vikram Patel from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), calls upon colleagues worldwide to include within this goal the following specific mental illness target: 

‘The provision of mental and physical health and social care services for people with mental disorders, in parity with resources for services addressing physical health.’ 

They also propose that this is directly supported by 2 indicators related to the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020: 

  • To ensure that service coverage for people with severe mental disorders in each country will have increased to at least 20% by 2020 (including a community orientated package of interventions for people with psychosis; bipolar affective disorder; or moderate-severe depression).
  • To increase the amount invested in mental health (as a % of total health budget) by 100% by 2020 in each low and middle income country.

In the BMJ, Professors Graham Thronicroft and Vikram Patel, both part of the Centre for Global Mental Health at King’s and the LSHTM, write: “The United Nations will soon decide what will follow its Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015. The case for including mental health among the new sustainable development goals is compelling, both because it cuts across most of the suggested new goals and because of the unmet needs of the 450 million people in the world with mental illness.”

Commenting on the initiative, Professor Shitij Kapur, Dean and Head of School of the IoPPN at King’s, says: “We’re delighted to support this campaign. The mental health treatment gap is vast in all countries, but there can be no sustainable development without improvements to mental health as well as physical health. I urge our students, and colleagues to join us in this important global movement for mental health.” 

The #FundaMentalSDG initiative is led by the #FundaMentalSDG Steering Group, composed of leaders in the field of global mental health, drawn from a wide range of service user, caregiver, advocacy, policy, service delivery and research organizations.

For more information, see,, and or follow #FundaMentalSDG on twitter. 

Read Professors Thornicroft and Patel’s article in The Guardian Why is mental health such a low priority for the UN? 

For further information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer (IoPPN) / (+44) 0207 848 5377