A look back at World Mental Health Day 2021

In 2020, the outbreak of Covid-19 put mental health on the global agenda like never before. As research into the pandemic’s impact continued to show its devastating effect on mental health, and inequalities in accessing support were exacerbated, the need to prioritise this urgent issue became increasingly clear.

In light of this context, the 2021 World Mental Health Day theme focused on ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. A greater range of groups across more countries than ever before took part including people with lived experience, civil society organisations, academics, governments and the private sector. Many groups, particularly among civil society, saw this as an opportunity to highlight the many factors that impact mental health – from poverty to human rights abuses – and to call for action to address the inequalities in accessing good quality, rights-based mental health and psychosocial support around the world.


At United for Global Mental Health we focused on supporting our partners from around the world in amplifying their messages and making new connections to drive progress. Because ultimately it is at the national and local level where change really needs to be made most.

From informative Twitter Spaces chats, to accessible mental health resources and interactive panel discussions, it was fantastic to see such a wide range of events and campaigns taking place across the globe.


This year we were also delighted to see a number of our global partners marking the occasion with their own activities. This included report launches, anti-stigma campaigns and story-telling, all of which helped to highlight why mental health must be at the top of the global agenda.

While action on mental health is still needed more than ever, the involvement of these global partners demonstrates how much progress has been made in recent years. We hope that they will continue to use their global reach to raise the profile of mental health, and look forward to continuing to work together.


Action by governments is essential if the right to good mental health is to be exercised everywhere.

That’s why we were pleased to see a number of key announcements from governments and policy-makers. From additional funding for mental health research in France, to the launch of a new initiative for community mental health care services in the UAE, these actions demonstrate progress towards a world where everyone, everywhere, has someone to turn to for support.

But it wasn’t just World Mental Health Day itself that saw the global community come together and put mental health at the front and centre of the world stage.

The busy global moments season also saw a discussion around mental health financing at the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, the French Government’s hosting of the Mental Health Summit in Paris, the launch of Countdown Global Mental Health 2030, the United Nations 76th General Assembly, and the launch of our Suicide Decriminalisation report, to name just a few of the key milestone events from September and October.