World Leaders discuss mental health at the G7 Summit
A week ago, seven of the “world’s most influential and open societies and advanced economies” met at the Carbis Bay G7 Summit in the UK. Whilst mental health was not a main item on the agenda of the meeting of Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, UK, and the USA, plus the EU, it was included in talks regarding the world’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health is mentioned in two of the main official documents coming out of the Summit – the Summit Communique and the Health Declaration – both of which have been agreed to by all seven countries:
Summit Communique - 7. We recognise that the pandemic has left no one untouched, impacting not only physical health but also mental health and social wellbeing. We pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of first responders, health workers, paid and unpaid care workers, scientists, and manufacturers who have developed and deployed COVID-19 medical tools at a pace few thought possible, opening up a path out of the pandemic. At the same time, we recognise that we have a long way to go to achieve global equitable access to these medical tools, and to manage the risks from new COVID- 19 variants which have the potential to reverse our progress.
Health Declaration - xii. We agree to support a robust global recovery from COVID-19, ensuring that countries are able to effectively address the indirect impacts on physical and mental health and broader socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. As we support global economic recovery, we must also recognise the significant impacts of the pandemic, notably the devastating and disproportionate impact on women and girls and on vulnerable and marginalised populations. We call on multilateral institutions, governments and the private sector to work together to mitigate further strain on systems and communities, as well as to regain development losses.
Globally, mental health is being challenged like never before by COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic on mental health is complicated, diverse and wide ranging, affecting all parts of our societies. All of this is taking a toll on already overwhelmed mental health services that are under-funded and under-resourced in many countries on every continent affected by COVID-19.
Funding announced by governments and multilateral organisations for the pandemic has largely been focused on physical health, although funding for mental health is included in at least some of the financing packages. But it is critically important that funding rises now and includes protecting and expanding support and services for mental health.
COVID-19 gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to move mental health forward. By investing in mental health now and building mental health into all COVID-19 response and recovery plans, we will build back better for society as a whole, and mental health in particular. We hope the G7 lives up to its commitments and leads the world in COVID-19 response and recovery.