Despite their substantial contribution to population health and development, mental health issues remain largely overlooked by the international community. However, there are at least two compelling arguments to put mental health in the global and development agendas: a public health argument based on the huge burden attributable to mental disorders and a moral argument based on the unacceptable gap in access and treatment of mental disorders and in systematic violation of the human rights of people with mental disabilities.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse) and the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Nova University of Lisboa, has decided to contribute to the global debate on mental health tackling four relevant issues:

  • social determinants that can be modified to promote mental health and prevent mental disorders;
  • the fundamental connections between physical and mental health, and the implications for integrating mental health care with general health care;
  • the urgency of a radical shift in the way mental disorders are managed, away from long-term hospitalization and towards community-based mental health care;
  • the importance of protecting the rights of people with mental disabilities, especially children in psychiatric settings.

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