Bringing mental health in the G7 spotlight

By Yves Miel Zuniga, United for Global Mental Health

The road to an equitable world requires wealthy countries to commit to shaping the future for a healthier world, where mental health plays a key role. The G7, a group of the world’s largest economies which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States this week held their 48th Summit at Schloss Elmau, Krün, Bavarian Alps, Germany with a focus on the progress toward an equitable world.

Mental health has been gaining traction in recent G7 meetings, and ahead of this G7 Leaders Summit, the G7 Health Ministers’ Communiqué issued a call to address the negative mental health impacts posed by COVID-19, especially amongst health workers. The call for providing high-quality mental health services has been extended to other vulnerable groups and marginalised sectors such as persons with disabilities, older persons, women, and children, especially girls and adolescents as reflected in the G7 Development inequities Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué. While these declarations may enable mental health to be placed alongside other global priorities, more concrete commitments are yet to be made by governments to genuinely address existing inequities in mental health.

Parallel to the G7 Communiqué is the C7 Communiqué led by the Civil7 (C7) who are the official engagement group to the G7 for international civil society, particularly from non-governmental organisations. This year’s Communique argues that COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of mental health and further revealed how more actions are still needed to achieve an equitable world. Despite indicative progress, there remains a need to amplify mental health as a crucial public health gap, especially in times of a pandemic.

The next global political moment of this type will be the G20 Summit in November. UnitedGMH hopes to see further commitments and bold actions from world leaders towards realising the highest attainable level of mental health for their citizens, and those of other countries. UnitedGMH will be working to ensure this happens and holding governments accountable to their commitments.

Yves Miel Zuniga is United for Global Mental Health’s Senior Officer. A strong advocate of mental health (co-founder of #MentalHealthPH), reproductive health (UNFPA Peer Educator on Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health in Emergencies), and good governance (ASEAN Youth Leader Ambassador of NUS, Gerry Roxas Leadership Awardee, and Jesse M. Robredo Ambassador).