World Mental Health Day 2023

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World Mental Health Day 2023 is an opportunity for people and communities to unite behind the theme ‘Mental health is a universal human right” to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right.

Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.

Good mental health is vital to our overall health and well-being. Yet one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions, which can impact their physical health, their well-being, how they connect with others, and their livelihoods. Mental health conditions are also affecting an increasing number of adolescents and young people.

Having a mental health condition should never be a reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health. Yet all over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations. Many are excluded from community life and discriminated against, while many more cannot access the mental health care they need or can only access care that violates their human rights.

WHO continues to work with its partners to ensure mental health is valued, promoted, and protected, and that urgent action is taken so that everyone can exercise their human rights and access the quality mental health care they need. Join the World Mental Health Day 2023 campaign to learn more about your basic right to mental health as well as how to protect the rights of others.

The WONCA Working Party on Mental Health joins this celebration

Christos Lionis, on behalf of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health

World Mental Health Day 2023 allows individuals and communities to rally around the theme, "Mental health is a universal human right." This day aims to enhance understanding, raise awareness, and drive actions that promote and safeguard everyone's mental health as an inherent human right.1

Mental health is a fundamental human right for all individuals. Regardless of who they are or where they reside, everyone possesses the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This encompasses the right to protection from mental health risks, access to available, acceptable, and high-quality care, as well as the right to liberty, independence, and inclusion within the community. This concept prompts us to reexamine the World Health Organization's definition of mental health as "a state of mental well-being in which people effectively cope with life's various stresses, realize their potential, function productively, and contribute to their communities".2 It underscores the significance of mental well-being, particularly in the face of global challenges stemming from health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, migration, conflicts, and wars.

Recognizing the interconnected nature of these challenges and their impact on mental health, general practitioners and family physicians are encouraged to actively engage in the development of comprehensive, holistic approaches to address them. This is not a simple task, as they must view mental health as a two-dimensional concept, as outlined in an opinion document by the EC Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health (2021). 3 Based on that document, one dimension pertains to the continuum, which can be described as either pathogenic or illness-focused, ranging from the absence of mental illness to severe mental illness. The other dimension, health-focused, encompasses a spectrum of ability to function. The ability to function is considered a human right for the people and a task for general practitioners and family physicians who need to play a pivotal role in assisting individuals in coping with a stressful and uncertain current environment.

This also places a significant responsibility on WONCA, particularly its Working Party on Mental Health, to contribute to this endeavor and initiate various initiatives. In this direction, numerous training activities and programs by the Working Party are already in progress.


3. Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health. Supporting mental health of health workforce and other essential workers. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2021