Make mental health a priority across the board, UN chief urges

Make mental health a priority across the board, UN chief urges

A female peacekeeper conducts a mental health session in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UN Photo)

New York (UNA-OIC) – Mental health and psychosocial support must be seen as integral to all humanitarian, peacebuilding and development programs across the United Nation, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday.

The UN chief was speaking at a high-level event on Mental Health Interventions for Peacebuilding in Conflict and Humanitarian settings.

“Vulnerability and mental health problems are part of our collective human experience and should be treated as seriously as physical health issues, including during a global pandemic,” he said.

 For Guterres, peacebuilding, mental health and psychosocial support are deeply interconnected. He reminded that “people who have suffered losses, attacks, family separations and gender-based violence, carry grievances and wounds that can perpetuate repetition and cycles of violence.”

The goal of the event was to discuss successes in the field, highlight best practices and outline a way forward that could be applied to all areas of the UN’s work.

Examples of promising initiatives to support mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, included programs in northeast Nigeria, the Philippines, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The Secretary-General commended the work of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group, which has developed a wide range of resources during the pandemic, some of which have been translated into more than 140 languages.

He also encouraged donors, governments and humanitarian agencies to scale up their investments in mental health and psychosocial support, saying it is “a vital component in supporting peaceful, resilient and inclusive communities and societies.”

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