Mental disorders account for at least 18% of global disease burden, and the associated annual global costs are projected to be US$6 trillion by 2030. Evidence-based, cost-effective public mental health (PMH) interventions exist to prevent mental disorders from arising, prevent associated impacts of mental disorders (including through treatment), and promote mental wellbeing and resilience. However, only a small proportion of people with mental disorders receive minimally adequate treatment. Compared with treatment, there is even less coverage of interventions to prevent the associated impacts of mental disorders, prevent mental disorders from arising, or promote mental wellbeing and resilience. This implementation failure breaches the right to health, has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and results in preventable suffering, broad impacts, and associated economic costs. In this Health Policy paper, we outline specific actions to improve the coverage of PMH interventions, including PMH needs assessments, collaborative advocacy and leadership, PMH practice to inform policy and implementation, training and improvement of population literacy, settings-based and integrated approaches, use of digital technology, maximising existing resources, focus on high-return interventions, human rights approaches, legislation, and implementation research. Increased interest in PMH in populations and governments since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic supports these actions. Improved implementation of PMH interventions can result in broad health, social, and economic impacts, even in the short-term, which support the achievement of a range of policy objectives, sustainable economic development, and recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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