Increase, improve and integrate: the way forward for financing NCDs and Mental Health.

Our new report, titled “Increase, improve, and integrate: the way forward for financing NCDs and Mental health,” provides a deep dive into the current situation of global NCD and mental health financing and opportunities to increase and improve both domestic and global mental health finance, with considerations for the integration of NCDs and mental health for health stakeholders.

The Challenge 

People living with mental ill health alongside a non-communicable disease such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes will die 15 years’ prematurely on average. And yet NCDs and mental health remain chronically underfunded across the world. The global finance gap for mental health is over US$200 billion annually.

Mental health and NCDs are inherently interconnected – mental illness affects and is affected by NCDs. This relationship is complex and bidirectional. Both share risk factors and can coexist, leading to high health costs and rates of morbidity and mortality. 

Fewer than half of the 62 countries with sufficient data spend more than a quarter of their government health budget on NCD. The funding situation for mental health is even more dire. Despite mental health conditions accounting for one in every ten DALYs, they receive only 2% of average domestic health financing. 

The key recommendations from the report include:

  • NCD and mental health financing should be integrated where possible, and always complementary. This means finance that creates new models of care for integrated, person-centred care, which ensures individuals get the comprehensive physical and mental health care they need and desire. 
  • Domestic resources need to be increased and improved. Not only should all government spending targets of allocating at least 5% (low- and middle-income countries) and 10% (high-oncome countries) of health budgets to mental health, but financing prioritise the integration of mental health into primary and community-based health care needs to be the priority, as well as ‘mental health in all policies’, not funding psychiatric hospitals and long-term care facilities.
  • Where domestic resources are not enough, catalytic donor finance is needed to create systemic change and sustainable financing solutions. Bilateral and multilateral donors should allocate at least 0.5% of their DAH to mental health, with this increasing to 1% by 2027 and 5% by 2030, those would create an Additional US$363 million and US$2.1 billion respectively filling 11% or nearly two-thirds of the finance gap in low- and lower-middle-income countries respectively. 
  • Finances for mental health and NCDs must be transparently and consistently monitored and tracked through participatory processes through accurately and transparently track their financing for mental health against universally-agreed definitions for domestic and development assistance spending for mental health.