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Learn more about Global Mental Health

What is Global Mental Health?

Mental health
The capacity of thought, emotion, and behavior that enables every individual to realize their own potential in relation to their developmental stage, to cope with the normal stresses of life, to study or work productively and fruitfully, and to contribute to their community.1

Mental disorder
Disturbances of thought, emotion, behavior, and relationships with others that lead to substantial suffering and functional impairment in one or more major life activities, as identified in the major classification systems such as the WHO International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.2 3

Lancet Commission

A new Lancet Commission report on mental health exposes a “collective failure to respond to this global health crisis”, causing long-lasting and preventable harm to people, communities and economies. Mental disorders are on the rise in every country in the world and will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030.

The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development brought together 28 global experts (including two of our GMH faculty!) in psychiatry, public health, neuroscience and advocacy, as well as people with first-hand experience of mental health conditions. Launched at the first-ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, the Commission’s report outlines a blueprint for action to promote mental wellbeing, prevent mental health problems and enable recovery from mental disorders.

Mental Health and the SDGs

Mental health made a giant leap to the global agenda with the inclusion of mental health in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. However, mental health goes beyond SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being. The promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness will come through the success of many SDGs. Dr. Crick Lund reviews how SDGs can be framed within social determinants of mental disorders.

Figure 1: Sustainable Development Goals within Mental Health Domains. Adapted from: Lund et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018

The Global Mental Health Timeline

From the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development.

Want to Learn More?

Here are some key publications about Global Mental Health. Please note that these articles may require institutional permission to access.


  1. World Health Organization. “Promoting Mental Health: Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice (Summary Report). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2004,” 2011.
  2. Patel, Vikram, Shekhar Saxena, Crick Lund, Graham Thornicroft, Florence Baingana, Paul Bolton, Dan Chisholm, et al. “The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development.” Lancet (London, England) 392, no. 10157 (October 27, 2018): 1553–98.
  3. Mental Disorders. World Health Organization.