Intended for healthcare professionals


Including mental health among the new sustainable development goals

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 20 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5189
  1. Graham Thornicroft, professor 1,
  2. Vikram Patel, professor23
  1. 1Centre for Global Mental Health, King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK
  2. 2Centre for Global Mental Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurgaon, India
  1. Correspondence to: G Thornicroft graham.thornicroft{at}

The case is compelling

Him too

The United Nations will soon decide what will follow its millennium development goals, which expire in 2015. The case for including mental health among the new sustainable development goals is compelling, both because it cuts across most of the suggested new goals and because of the unmet needs of the 450 million people in the world with mental illness.1

Poorer mental health is a precursor to reduced resilience to conflict. It’s also a barrier to achieving the suggested goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. In addition, conflict is itself a risk factor for adverse mental health consequences,2 and in the aftermath of conflict the needs of vulnerable groups such as people with mental illness are often accorded the lowest priority (as documented by photojournalist Robin Hammond,

The improvement of mental health systems will also have a decisive role in making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, and this is especially important given the global trend towards urbanisation with its associated risk factors for mental illness. Moreover, individual adversity—for example, complications of pregnancy, such as miscarriage—is associated with worse mental health.

A third suggested goal is to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent …

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