World Mental Health Day was on Tuesday, October 10 of this week, marking the 75th anniversary of the World Federation for Mental Health. This year’s campaign recognized that mental health is a universal human right, in which everyone has the right to attain the highest standard of mental health. 

We’re recapping some impactful activities from partners, Youth Advisors, and more from World Mental Health Day. Find out how they relate to young people’s mental health and wellbeing below!

1. The Lancet Comment: “Why Cities Matter for Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing.”

Photo Credit: Maskot/Getty Images via The Lancet

Led by Fondation Botnar, mental health practitioners, youth leaders, and researchers discussed the impact of urban environments on young people’s mental health in The Lancet. Co-authors include Nicole Bardikoff, Associate Director, Global Mental Health at Grand Challenges Canada, and Youth Advisor Sweetbert M. Anselimus, Executive Director of Tanzania’s Psychosocial Welfare Organization.

90% of the 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide live in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC). That’s why addressing youth mental health challenges is crucial for their wellbeing. This comment explores how city life presents opportunities and challenges for adolescent mental health. Cities offer economic opportunities, interpersonal connections and prospects for personal development. Howeverthey can also pose risks, such as higher mental health problems, concentrated poverty, low social capital and social segregation.

By 2030, half of the urban population globally is expected to be under 18. In addition, LMIC settings are projected to contribute to 90% of this demographic expansion. The state of global urban environments has a significant impact on the wellbeing of young people. That’s why prioritizing youth-friendly cities is crucial.

2. Youth Advisors at the First-Ever Global Forum for Adolescents and More! 

Photo Credit: PMNCH

On October 11-12, 2023, the largest and first-ever global gathering for adolescents, the Global Forum for Adolescents, hosted by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), brought together youth advocates and leaders worldwide to spotlight their expertise on topics impacting their wellbeing. 

We hosted a session presented by our partners, United for Global Mental Health, to hear from young advocates on leadership, breaking stigma, and collaboration for youth mental health. Youth Advisor Viet Trinh, Program Director at Lighthouse Social Enterprise, participated in the panel discussion with Youth leaders from Red de Jóvenes Indígenas de América Latina y el CaribeUNICEF Latin American and the Caribbean, the Egyptian Society for Adolescent MedicineKarolinska Institute and Pathfinder International.

Viet shared his expertise in leading and organizing support for LGBTQIA+ Youth in Vietnam and spoke about the importance of centring youth leadership. Here’s what he said: 

“We must center Youth leaders at the forefront of decision-making globally — the leadership of young people, especially those with lived experience of mental health challenges, is so important. In mental health advocacy platforms, the participation and leadership of marginalized Youth populations becomes even more urgent and meaningful.”

Want to hear from more Youth Advisors?

Manvi TiwariJihad Bnimoussa, and Oriana Ortiz Parrao, were recently featured in Fondation Botnar’s Rising Minds Podcast! Tune in on Spotify to hear them speak on mental health advocacy, stigma, and reframing adolescence! 

Youth Advisor Jackee Schess at the 78th UN General Assembly

On September 18, 2023, Jackee Schess, CEO of Generation Mental Health, joined Fondation Botnar for the Clinton Global Initiative at the 78th UN General Assembly. At the session, Jackee called for global decision-makers to elevate the voice of young people and those with lived experience of mental health challenges. Hear her message below!

Video Credit: Fondation Botnar

3. New Report from United for Global Mental Health: “Financing of Mental Health: The Current Situation and Ways Forward”

Photo Credit: UnitedGMH

On World Mental Health Day, our partners, United for Global Mental Health, launched a report titled “Financing of Mental Health: The Current Situation and Ways Forward” to examine current global trends, gaps, and steps forward in mental health funding. 

Notable findings from their report include: 

  1. There’s at least a $200 billion gap in financing for mental health globally. 
  2. Most countries aren’t meeting mental health funding targets. 
  3. More than half of mental health financing is by private philanthropists instead of governments. 
  4. Governments and international aid agencies should invest more in mental health. If they increased their spending to just 1% of their total support for health, we’d have almost an extra half a billion dollars each year for mental health. 

4. New guidance from the World Health Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to support countries in enhancing mental health and human rights through legislation 

On October 9, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) introduced new guidance called “Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: Guidance and Practice.” This guidance aims to support nations in reforming their legislation to prevent human rights violations and improve access to mental health services.

What does it say about reforming legislation to support children and adolescent mental health? Here is what we picked up from the guidance:

  1. Granting children and adolescents a right to express their views and consent to/or refuse mental health care. (Sec 2.3.1)
  2. Respecting the view of children and adolescents with a diagnosis or a disability, be it psychological, intellectual, or developmental. (Sec 2.2.5)
  3. Improving access to age-appropriate mental health care and services that cater to young people’s needs. (Sec 2.4.5)
  4. Seeking the participation and views of children and adolescents in public decisions affecting them. (Sec 1.5.6)
  5. Providing children and adolescents access to information essential for their health and development. (Sec 2.2.5)