This week Global Health Action has published "A Declaration on Mental Health in Africa: moving to implementation". The 25 original signatories, all leaders within global and mental health from Africa and other nations, call upon citizens and the mental health care community to add their names to an online petition to show support for the actions outlined.
Mental health disorders account for a huge burden of disease and disability in Africa, where less than 1% of what are already small healthcare budgets are spent on these disorders.
According to Abdallah S. Daar, Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Department of Surgery, University of Toronto and Grand Challenges Canada, Toronto, Canada, "Following the adoption of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan by the World Health Organization, Africa has an historic opportunity to improve mental health and wellbeing for its citizens. This declaration arose from a very stimulating meeting held at Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa earlier this year, where mental health leaders from Africa and beyond recognized the need to generate a strong and common consensus to drive work on the continent."
Among other things, the authors advocate for the inclusion of mental health into the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and for the convening of a special UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Mental Health within three years.
The actions set forth in the declaration will be monitored by a Steering Committee that was formed at the STIAS meeting, to achieve impact well beyond the Declaration.