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MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL WEBINAR: FINANCING MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

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MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL WEBINAR: FINANCING MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

On Tuesday 29th March, 2022, our #MHForAll webinar series brought together a panel of experts to discuss the importance of integrating mental health services into Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Our panel included:

  • Chair: Yves Zuniga, Co-Founder and Deputy Director for policy and partnerships at MentalhealthPH 
  • Daniel Chisholm, Mental Health Specialist, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, World Health Organisation (WHO) 
  • Paul Bolton, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Coordinator, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Benjamin Ballah, General Secretary, Cultivation for Users Hope

All panellists agreed that there is a dire need to increase investments in mental health to address the significant treatment gaps in services across the world. 

Benjamin Ballah of Cultivation for Users’ Hope, explained that in Liberia, a country with a population of 5 million people, the mental health budget is set to be only $50,000 for the year, which comes to just $0.01 per capita. Benjamin flagged that people with lived experience and those living in rural areas are suffering the most due to poor access to inadequate facilities and support, “there are a series of relapses and no medication”, he said.

Panellist Dan Chisholm, the mental health specialist for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at the WHO added that scaling up mental health financing through UHC will not only improve mental health and wellbeing in populations but also reduce inequality and promote social development. 

Talking about long-term solutions to the issue of siloed funding structure for different health systems, Paul Bolton from USAID added that the current system is inherently inefficient both for the service-user and the funder. The best solution for this would be the implementation of a primary health care system that funds and addresses health and mental health issues collectively.

Yves Zuniga from #MentalHealthPH concluded the session with the statement: “There is no Universal Health without Mental Health.” UnitedGMH’s latest brief on ‘Financing Mental Health for All’ highlights that sustainable financing for mental health systems is possible and achievable through UHC and countries must act on this now to ensure everyone everywhere has the support they need for their mental health, without financial hardships.

To find out more about what our panellists had to say on mental health and UHC, watch the full webinar here.