You are here:

Civil society calls out world leaders’ neglect of mental health

Published on


Civil society calls out world leaders’ neglect of mental health

Civil society calls out world leaders’ neglect of mental health

Grassroots campaigners from around the world have joined together to launch ‘Speak Your Mind’ this weekend, a new global campaign to achieve mental health for all. The campaign brings together people with first-hand experience of mental health conditions, experts and organisations and is calling for leaders to end the neglect of mental health by increasing investment, empowerment and education.

Launching on the eve of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization’s annual meeting of world health leaders, Speak Your Mind calls on governments to take immediate action on mental health. WHO figures report that the targets and indicators set by the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan agreed by member states are off track and progress is too slow.

Over three-quarters of people with mental health conditions in low and middle-income countries receive no support at all, meaning depression has become one of the leading causes of ill health for all ages and suicide a major killer of young people worldwide. Yet governments, on average, allocate less than 2% of their health spending and donors devote less than 1% of global health aid to mental health. Without urgent action - political support and additional funding - people all over the world will not have access to the mental health support and services they desperately need.

Cynthia Germanotta, President and Co-Founder of Born This Way Foundation with her daughter Lady Gaga, is also a supporter of the campaign and will be joining the official global launch of the campaign at a pre-Assembly celebration in Geneva with campaigners and Nigerian pop star Korede Bello. A special remix of Korede’s songs will be performed, supported by the African Ndiguel Dance Troupe in support of the campaign.

Cynthia says, “The Speak Your Mind campaign empowers people to join the global movement for action on mental health. Everyone - especially our young people - deserves a world where their mental and emotional wellness is understood, resourced, and fostered. It's time for governments to prioritise mental health with increased investment in better care and services, empowerment of people with lived experience to exercise their rights, and education of everyone to reduce stigma and increase support. So many more people can lead healthy, thriving lives if we invest in and value mental health for all.“   

The campaign’s vision of “mental health for all” echoes the World Health Organization’s central focus on achieving universal health coverage, whereby everyone, everywhere can access quality health services without suffering financial hardship.

Through a public walk, reception, installation and performance by Nigerian pop star Korede Bello and the African Ndinge Dance Troupe in Geneva, Speak Your Mind will put mental health on the global stage during World Health Assembly Week. The 15 participating countries are supporting the launch through national activities: meeting with their governments, organising concerts, doing outreach in schools and appearing on national TV and radio.

"This movement is ready, willing and raring to go. We've come together because the time is now. We're calling on governments to shake up their priorities and lead us into a future where there is mental health for all," said Victor Ugo, a campaigner with Speak Your Mind in Nigeria.

Speak Your Mind’s supporters pledge to hold health professionals, across all disciplines, responsible for ensuring their patients get the right mental health care. The campaign will showcase the kinds of changes that government departments, health workers and society’s leaders should be making. To support the campaign’s grass-roots work, Comic Relief has set up a custom-built fund to support Speak Your Mind campaigns in low and middle income countries, paving the way for other organisations to get involved.

"Comic Relief is proud to support Speak Your Mind's dynamic grassroots campaigners to lead the charge in inspiring governments and other funders like us to step up and invest to create a mentally healthier future for everyone, everywhere" said Liz Warner, Comic Relief CEO.

Respect for human rights is also key to the campaign, so as to guarantee everyone’s access to positive mental health support, drive reform and prompt laws that promote the rights of those with lived experience. The Speak Your Mind campaign is powered by United for Global Mental Health, an organisation working to amplify the voices of people affected by mental health conditions, increase financing and ensure quality mental health support is accessible to everyone, everywhere, worldwide.

"Speak Your Mind will give the megaphone to people with lived experience of mental health, amplifying citizens voices and demands, so leaders hear them. WHO figures report countries are failing to meet their own targets for reforming mental health policies and increasing investment. The rights of those with mental health conditions are being violated in many countries. Yet good mental health for all is one of the best and most important investments we can make in our world right now - for individuals, economies and society at large. Now is the time to act for the future we need, and we are thrilled to be supporting the campaigners leading this campaign all over the world so that their visions can be achieved.” said Elisha London, CEO of United for Global Mental Health.

Citizens around the world who believe in a world for mental health for all are invited to join the campaign and by pledge to speak their minds at



Global media contacts:

Melanie Archer, Global Health Strategies

+44 (0) 7708 182027

Louisa Sampson, United for Global Mental Health

+44 (0) 7746 303905


Notes for Editors:

Speak Your Mind’s website is live

The campaign involves civil society campaigners from the following 14 countries: Argentina, Australia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tonga, the United Kingdom and United States

The Speak Your Mind is funded globally by The Getch Foundation, Comic Relief, d’Harcourt Foundation.  Official Global Supporters include the Born This Way Foundation, YMCA, Global Mental Health Peer Network, Nexus and is powered by United for Global Mental Health.

Find out more about Walk The Talk:

Key Facts and Figures

  • Mental health conditions are on the rise in every country in the world.

  • Over three-quarters of people with mental health conditions in low- and middle-income countries receive no support at all.

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.

  • Less than 2% of national health budgets are spent on mental health across the world.

  • Less than 1% of international development assistance for health is spent on mental health.

  • Mental health conditions could cost the global economy US$ 16 trillion from 2010 to 2030.