The French Ministerial Summit demands “Mind our rights now!”

By Sarah Kline, CEO and co-founder, United for Global Mental Health

Today we held a workshop on how to accelerate the momentum on mental health and psychosocial support.

The workshop included a range of inspirational speakers who spoke of how they are accelerating momentum, nationally and internationally. These included speakers from Togo, Peru, the Philippines, Nigeria, India and Kenya. It featured videos from UNICEF on the State of the World’s Children Report and from UnitedGMH on the need to change Global Fund policy and practice.

We all concluded there are a wide range of opportunities to take action immediately; but this must be underpinned first and foremost by advancing human rights. Investment in poor practices will not advance mental health; poor laws and policies will hinder not help mental health. There are things we need to stop – such as shackling or the Oviedo protocol. And things we need to start such as the greater prioritisation of a rights-based approach to mental health and psychosocial support in the replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) – the financing mechanism in the World Bank that supports the poorest countries – and in the new strategy being agreed for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

What did we conclude on how to generate political momentum?

Tell the stories

People With Lived Experience can and should be able to share their stories and have their voices heard. Learn more from She Writes Women in Nigeria, and from Human Rights Watch.

Build alliances and multi-stakeholder alliances

Among the mental health community but also with many others including those of marginalised groups. Learn more from the Mariwala Health Initiative, from the remarks of the Queen of Belgium.

Be aware of the need to integrate mental health – in Early Childhood Development, in social protection, in education, in health.

Read here about the work of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, read the new State of the World’s Children Report.

Be clear what we want

Rights based mental health and psychosocial support – and how it can be achieved – through a collaborative and community based approach. Learn more from Alberto Vasquez, Michael Njenga and others.

Step up and speak out together

Demand leadership, and support our leaders to ensure they do more. Learn more from Hauwa Ojefo and the work of the Global Mental Health Action Network.

Use data for action

To drive informed advocacy; to ensure monitoring and accountability; and to design and deliver better services. Use the Countdown for Global Mental Health 2030 dashboard to see what is happening in your country and other countries around the world.

I challenged everyone in the room and those who were watching online to identify one thing they will do as a result of this meeting. How will each of us step up and speak out?

The list above gives you plenty of ideas.

Because as we all agreed, the time to act is now.