You are here:

National and international partners call for action: World Mental Health Day 2021

Published on


National and international partners call for action: 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 this year 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. Below are a few highlights from our civil society partners around the world. 

United for Global Mental Health

 In the run up to World Mental Health Day, Sarah Kline, Co-Founder and CEO of UnitedGMH, joined the WHO and 800 participants from around the world for a live Twitter Spaces chat on Suicide Prevention. Along with Tess Kunik from the Liv Project, and Alexandra Fleischmann from the WHO, Sarah discussed our latest suicide decriminalisation report, work being done by our partners on suicide prevention, and how you can support someone in a time of crisis.



World Health Organization

During this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign, the WHO focused on showcasing the efforts made around the world to develop new ways of providing mental health care to their populations. They also encouraged the public and their partners to highlight positive stories as part of their own activities, to support and inspire others. 


In addition to this the WHO provided new materials in easy-to-read formats, showing hope people can take care of their own mental health and provide support to others, and used their social media channels to facilitate conversations around issues such as suicide prevention, youth mental health and mental health in emergency settings.

Clubhouse International

This year Clubhouse International launched their own World Mental Health Day campaign, Work WORKS. The initiative highlights and promotes Clubhouse Employment Programs as a gateway to recovery, and promotes Clubhouse TransitionalSupported and Independent Employment Programs. These programs are effective strategies for helping Clubhouse members return to paid employment, which is a gateway to recovery.



In India Sangath celebrated World Mental Health Day with the Department of Health, Central Tibetan Administration launching its pilot telepsychiatry project IMPACT-T (Improving Access through Telepsychiatry in the Tibetan settlements) and with a series of talks by global mental health experts. 

They also released a trailer for Chetana community wellness program, with further videos planned for an awareness series as part of their 25 years celebrations. These videos will cover a wide range of Mental  Health concerns across lifespan.


Mariwala Health Initiative

In the run up to World Mental Health Day, Mariwala Health Initiative, also based in India, launched the #FacingForward film on the Atmiyata Program. The film highlights how a community-based mental health intervention, in partnership with Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy, ILS, Pune, can create local resources for people to address their needs. The film also shows how the Atmiyata team of 1350 mitras (friends), 615 champions, 16 community facilitators provide support for Mental health concerns across 530 villages in Gujarat. The film was produced by BBC Story Works Commercial Production, and presented by the NCD Alliance.

Partners in Health

 In honour of World Mental Health Day, Partners in Health, the Center for Global Health, and Socios En Salud hosted a special webinar. Tied to this year’s theme of Mental Health in an Unequal World, it addressed the origins of health inequities and examples of how organizations and ministries have struggled to achieve equitable mental health. There were also exhibitions on projects and programs successfully implemented with the goal of generating equitable access to mental health services.



World Federation for Mental Health

Every year the World Federation for Mental Health publishes a set of educational materials in the run up to World Mental Health Day. Compiled with the help of collaborators from all over the world, this year it included a piece on Sustaining the Political Momentum on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, written by Sarah Kline (United for Global Mental Health), Maximilien Zimmermann (Handicap International), Alberto Vasquez (Sociedad y Discapacidad) and Ann Willhoite (Unicef).



Friendship Bench

The Friendship Bench, based in Zimbabwe, shared practical tips on supporting those around you, as well as hosting a special World Mental Health Day webinar. Speakers included 6 of the original Friendship Bench Grandmothers, Dr Ruth Verhey, Friendship Bench International Lead, and Prof. Dixon Chibanda, Friendship Bench Founder & CEO, who discussed how their work, combined with empathy, connectedness and social support can make a difference in lives around the world.



CAN MH Lanka

This year WHO Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Health, and Consumer Action Network Mental Health Lanka (CAN MH Lanka) came together for a World Mental Health Day event in Sri Lanka, featuring inspiring stories from service users and dedicated care staff. Speakers included Dr. Alaka Singh, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr. Rohan Rathnayake, Director Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Dr Pushpa De Silva, Yohan and the team from National Institute of Mental Health, Dr Jayamal De Silva, Dr Dulshika Vass, Amudha and team from Manasuwa Piyasa, Sangeetha Weeraratne, renowned actress, and Dr Ganesan Mahesan, Uwasara Arambewale.


Can MH Lanka


Mental Health PH

In the Philippines, Mental Health PH prepared and launched a self-care workbook for you, accessible for free on its website, as well as hosting a Twitter chat and Instagram Live. Mental Health PH also promoted the launch of the Investment Case for Mental Health Report during the 4th National Public Health Convention on Mental Health on 13th October, with WHO Philippines and the Department of Health. 



Awesome Minds Speaks

Uganda-based Awesome Mind Speaks joined Buzzcut Foundation and Ctrl Uganda in Butabika Hospital for a mental health awareness cycling event. There they all made commitments towards advocating for equal access for MH services for all, leaving no one behind.



Waves for Change

In South Africa, Waves for Change was selected to be featured on a new website, highlighting organisations working to support mental health of marginalised communities in recognition of this year’s theme. They also launched a campaign “Therapy is Now in Session” raising awareness and advocacy around inclusive community-based mental health intervention services tackling inequalities in South Africa.


South African Federation for Mental Health

On World Mental Health Day the South African Federation of Mental Health explored the meaning of this year’s theme in an article shared on their website. This highlighted the need for South Africa to continue working to ensure all people who require quality mental health care are able to do so, and argued that reducing inequality means improving access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate mental health services and support.




In Nepal, KOSHISH, in collaboration with the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, organized an orientation on Sensitive Reporting for Suicide Prevention. Held in Pokhara to mark World Mental Health Day, around 50 journalists from national and local media attended the program. In addition to this, KOSHISH also shared a message from Gauri Pradhan, Human Rights Defender and Former Member-NHRC, asking government to address and protect the Human right of people affected by mental health problems, and produced an informative flyer about the current status of mental health in Nepal.


TPO Nepal

This year TPO Nepal shared its own interpretation of the official campaign theme, Mental Health in an Unequal World, highlighting the lack of access to treatment for 90% of the population across Nepal. It also shared some beautiful artworks made by staff during the "Mental Health for Me" workshop held in-house on 8 October 2021 to commemorate World Mental Health Day 2021.





Our next post will focus on world mental health day highlights from our global partners and key policy-maker announcements. Stay tuned!