The Charter/Great Push for Mental Health

The People’s Charter

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Great Push for Mental Health Campaign

In 2009 the Federation began the Great Push for Mental Health campaign in alliance with the Movement for Global Mental Health.  The campaign was led by Professor John Copeland, who had been President of WFMH in 2007-2009. The goals it adopted were “Unity, Visibility, Rights, Recovery” to rally civil society to the cause of international mental health.

The Great Push campaign held a meeting of 30 international leaders of mental health in Washington 2010 at which a minister of health advised the WFMH Great Push campaign to seek world support.

By 2011 over 500 organizations from around the world representing diverse constituencies had signed up in support.

At a Great Push meeting held in New York in 18 September 2011 just before the UN Special Session on Noncommunicable Diseases, six ministers of health and senior health officials from the USA, India, Brazil, Israel, Guyana and Canada attended and received news about the support the Great Push campaign had generated for advancing mental health. Shortly after the meeting a request was made by ministers to the UN Secretary-General for an Action Plan for Mental Health.  The World Health Organization (WHO) was asked to prepare such a plan.

The following year, as a contribution to inform the drafting of the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, the Federation surveyed the organizations supporting the campaign (representing 589,900 service users, 530,916 family members, 55,411 mental health professionals, and 350,000 mental health service providers, from 53 countries) about their views on the most important issues in mental health. The preliminary results of the survey were forwarded to WHO to demonstrate the “grassroots” concerns of civil society.  These results corresponded closely with the objectives adopted in the Action Plan.

The organizations that returned the survey placed the adoption of a national mental health policy or strategy as their top general priority.  They also named community-based treatment as a specific priority.  They chose affordable mental health treatment and recovery as the top characteristics of good mental health care in the community.  The lead indicator they selected to show progress towards targets was a specified budget for mental health as a proportion of a country’s total health budget.  They recommended that the proportion of the total health budget allocated to mental health should be 10%. Graham Thornicroft, Mike Slade and Victoria Bird of the Health Service and Population Research Department (a WFMH Collaborating Center) at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, advised on and analyzed the results of the survey.

Professor Copeland and his colleagues incorporated the survey results as part of the “People’s Charter for Mental Health” to show the actions needed by governments and specific NGOs to improve mental health care.  The Charter, a joint initiative of WFMH with the Movement for Global Mental Health, was published in 2013 and is available on this website.

Five key goals in the Charter were included in the statement Professor Copeland read out at WHO’s World Health Assembly during the discussion of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan on 22 May 2013.  These are:

  1. Convening a United Nations General Assembly Special Session on mental health and the appointment of a UN special envoy for mental health.
  2. Accepting that the five major noncommunicable diseases affecting world health are: cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; respiratory disorders; mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders; and their multidirectional interactions.
  3. Ensuring that mental health and wellbeing are both recognized as essential components of the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), successors to the UN Millennium Goals.
  4. Ensuring that mental health is represented on all disaster emergency committees.
  5. Ensuring that the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan is implemented expeditiously by all countries.

WFMH is indebted to John Bowis and to Graham Thornicroft at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, Deborah Maguire of WFMH and many others from around the world who contributed to the development of the Charter.