Opinion: Mental health services critical part of human-rights-based universal health coverage

Around the world, hundreds of millions of people lack access to high-quality mental health services. This may not only worsen both their physical and mental health, but it may also violate their human rights, according to a new opinion article co-authored by Shekhar Saxena, professor of the practice of global mental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He and co-author Elisha London of United for Global Mental Health called for the integration of mental health in universal health coverage (UHC), under which people receive all essential health services without being pushed into poverty.

The opinion article was published in Devex on December 10, 2020 in conjunction with the release of a report on the same topic by United for Global Mental Health co-authored by Saxena.

Saxena and London wrote that the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting countries around the world to re-examine their health systems and look for ways to better address future needs. “This is an historic moment for UHC and for mental health,” they wrote. “The time to act is now, or risk failing the very concept of UHC and leaving many hundreds of millions even further behind.”

Read the article: Opinion: Why integrating mental health into UHC is key to ensuring human rights