Mental Health Information

World Health Organisation (WHO)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is an international specialised agency of the United Nations whose purpose is to help people globally to attain the highest levels of health possible.

The World Health Organisation. Illustration of a globe surrounded by a stethoscope.

The World Health Organisation works with over 194 states around the world to ensure positive and informed healthcare access for all.

They work to improve health systems; health through the life-course; to fight against non-communicable and communicable diseases; improve preparedness, surveillance and health emergency response.

The World Health Organisation supports countries and supports the coordination of governments and partners – including bilateral and multilateral groups, and also working with funds and foundations, civil society organisations and the private sector.

The WHO’s Essential Medicines List is a guide for countries on the core medicines that a national health system needs. This list is revised every 2 years to ensure that it is up to date with the latest developments in medicines and vaccines.

Focusing on mental health, the WHO recognises that suicide is one of the biggest causes of death among adolescents. Some of these deaths can be prevented with good health services, education and social support and so they are developing campaigns and support for countries wanting to improve their mental health services.

People living through humanitarian emergencies are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. The World Health Organisation helps ensure that the mental health and psychosocial support provided in humanitarian emergencies is coordinated and effective.

In 2019, WHO launched the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health to ensure access to quality and affordable care for mental health conditions in 12 priority countries to 100 million more people.

They have also published the latest version of the ICD-11 – the International Classification of Diseases which helps diagnose and code mental and physical health problems.

The World Health Organisation was founded on 7 April 1948 – We now celebrate this day as World Health Day, a reminder of how much progress has been made since the formation of the WHO and how much there is still to be done in combating physical and mental health challenges around the world and ensuring equity of access to health support.