On World Mental Health Day, WHO is calling on Member States in the South-East Asia Region to intensify action to achieve access for all to quality mental health care, in line with the recently adopted Paro Declaration on universal access to people-centred mental health care and services. Globally, before the COVID-19 pandemic, around 1 in 8 people lived with a mental health condition. Gaps in treatment were unacceptably large, especially in low- and middle-income countries.The COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost all areas of health, but few as profoundly as mental health. In 2020, cases of major depressive disorder are estimated to have increased by more than 27% globally, and cases of anxiety disorders by more than 25%, adding to the 1 billion people who were already living with a mental disorder.
In September 2022, at the Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia, countries of the Region committed to take bold, decisive action, unanimously adopting the Paro Declaration on universal access to people-centred mental health care and services. The Paro Declaration aims to ensure that all people in the Region can access quality mental health care, close to where they live, without financial hardship. It places specific emphasis on the need to reorient and integrate mental health services into primary health care (PHC), complementing the new Regional Strategy for PHC, launched in December 2021.