Public mental health is assuming an important place in the field of psychiatry and mental health. Mental disorder and poor mental wellbeing have large impacts across population health which crises such as COVID-19 will further increase.
Despite the existence of effective public mental health interventions, only a minority of those with mental disorder receive any treatment even in high-income countries with far less provision of interventions to prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorder from arising or promote mental wellbeing. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a population approach to address this public mental health intervention gap requires even more urgent global attention to prevent the anticipated increased prevalence of mental disorder and poor mental wellbeing.
The World Psychiatric Association occupies a unique position in the field of psychiatry and mental health. It was established in 1950 to promote the advancement in different areas of psychiatry and mental health and represents the voice of psychiatrists through national psychiatric societies. WPA’s 2020-23 Action Plan has highlighted public mental health as a priority area. The establishment of a public mental health working group to formulate recommendations for WPA’s future work was an important step towards achieving such goals and objectives for WPA’s work during the next triennium.
This briefing on public mental health on COVID-19 from WPA’s public mental health working group illustrates an approach that WPA would like to follow in coming years. The document exemplifies a population approach to mental health even more useful during situations such as COVID-19 which includes assessment of population need and steps to improve coverage, outcomes and coordination of different public mental health interventions to mitigate the crisis.
Thanks to Dr Jonathan Campion for leading this work which WPA is pleased to share with our members societies to support the reduction of COVID-19’s impact on population mental health.
Dr Afzal Javed
Chair WPA Standing Committee on Planning (2017-20)
President Elect
World Psychiatric Association
July 2020

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