WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020

On May 27, 2013, the World Health Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013—2020 that has great potential to change the direction of mental health in countries around the world in the next 8 years. This action plan and the accompanying resolution — a first in the history of WHO — represent a formal recognition of the importance of mental health for WHO's 194 member states.


The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”


At the root of the action plan is a vision of:
"A world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected, mental disorders are prevented and persons affected by these disorders are able to exercise the full range of human rights and to access high quality, culturally appropriate health and social care in a timely way to promote recovery, all in order to attain the highest possible level of health and participate fully in society and at work free from stigmatisation and discrimination".


WHO’s comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 has now been adopted by the 66th World Health Assembly. The action plan is the outcome of extensive global and regional consultations over the last year with a broad array of stakeholders including: 135 Member States; 60 WHO CCs and other academic centres; 76 NGOs and 17 other stakeholders and experts.

WHO Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013–2020 WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020

The four major objectives of the action plan are to:


  • strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health.
  • provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
  • implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
  • strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.


The plan sets important new directions for mental health including a central role for provision of community based care and a greater emphasis on human rights. It introduces the notion of recovery, moving away from a pure medical model, and addresses income generation and education opportunities, housing and social services and other social determinants of mental health in order to ensure a comprehensive response to mental health.




Read more about the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020


Integrating the response to mental disorders and other chronic diseases in health care systems
Emphasize prevention:

Most chronic conditions are preventable, so too are many of their complications. Prevention should be a component of every health-care interaction.

Mental health: a state of well-being


Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.


Around 20% of the world's children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures.


Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people. Yet, regions of the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources. Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people.


Social determinants of mental health