Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x24gv Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-30T13:42:52.644Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The importance of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Nicole Votruba
FundaMentalSDG initiative, Maudsley International, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, UK
Graham Thornicroft
Centre for Global Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, UK, email
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]


Core share and HTML view are not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

The United Nations' draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) only briefly mention mental health. In the context of a growing burden of disease due to mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities, the inclusion of a clear mental health target and indicators in the SDGs will acknowledge the needs and rights of hundreds of millions of people. It will mobilise international funding and policy development, and support other SDGs; it will also strengthen mental health structures, governance and services in low- and middle-income countries. We argue that for a just, sustainable and inclusive post-2015 development agenda, it is vital that the United Nations includes a clear mental health target and indicators in the SDGs.

Guest Editorial
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists 2015


Bloom, D. E., Cafiero, E.T., Jané-Llopis, E., et al (2011) The Global Economic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases. World Economic Forum.Google Scholar
Jones, S. (2014) People with disabilities ‘simply don't count’ in many developing countries. Guardian, 23 October. Available at (accessed 24 October 2014).Google Scholar
Ki-Moon, B. (2013) Needed: a bold vision for the future. In Global Development Goals: Leaving No One Behind (ed. Samarasinghe, N.), pp. 89. Witan Media.Google Scholar
Mohammed, A. (2013) A just and sustainable world. The post-2015 development agenda must address the unmet challenges and combat the more complex threats facing the world. In Global Development Goals: Leaving No One Behind (ed. Samarasinghe, N.), pp. 146148. Witan Media.Google Scholar
Saxena, S., Thornicroft, G., Knapp, M., et al (2007) Resources for mental health: scarcity, inequity, and inefficiency. Lancet, 370, 878889.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thornicroft, G. (2006) Shunned: Discrimination Against People With Mental Illness. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Thornicroft, G. & Patel, V. (2014) Including mental health among the new sustainable development goals: the case is compelling. BMJ, 349, g5189.Google Scholar
United Nations (2013) A Life of Dignity for All: Accelerating Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals and Advancing the United Nations Development Agenda Beyond 2015. Report of the Secretary-General. United Nations Resolution A/68/202. Available at (accessed 3 November 2014).Google Scholar
Wahlbeck, K., Westman, J., Nordentoft, M., et al (2011) Outcomes of Nordic mental health systems: life expectancy of patients with mental disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry, 199, 453458.Google Scholar
Wang, P. S., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J., et al (2007) Use of mental health services for anxiety, mood, and substance disorders in 17 countries in the WHO world mental health surveys. Lancet, 370, 84850.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Whiteford, H. A., Degenhardt, L., Rehm, J., et al (2013) Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet, 382, 15751786.Google Scholar
World Health Organization (2008) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP): Scaling Up Care for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders. WHO.Google Scholar
World Health Organization (2011) Mental Health Atlas 2011. WHO.Google Scholar
World Health Organization (2013) Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020. WHO.Google Scholar
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.