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Humanitarian crises often produce psychological suffering and trauma, which threaten the health and well-being of affected people, and erode global efforts for peacebuilding and recovery.

Mental health remains one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, nearly 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide[1].

This year’s theme of World Mental Health Day – Mental Health for All, Greater Investment – Greater Access is more relevant than ever to humanitarian emergencies and conflict settings as access to quality and affordable mental health care is diminishing as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts health services around the world.

In Yemen, an estimated one in five people suffer from mental health disorders, according to a 2017 study conducted by the Family Counselling and Development Foundation. This number is likely to have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly six years of conflict.

However, mental healthcare remains scarce in Yemen. Mental illness is stigmatized, and the proportion of psychiatrists per population is insufficient. Some of the few existing mental health services have even closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call for ‘Greater Investment and Greater Access’ for mental health this year is most timely and opportune for Yemen as humanitarian actors tackle the reduction of funding and challenges imposed by COVID-19 that are hampering the scaling up of quality and specialized services for mental health.

Under these extraordinary circumstances, UNFPA and its partners have strived to ensure the continuity of care, access and quality of services.

UNFPA joins the global community on World Mental Health Day, calling for urgent action and greater investment in mental health in Yemen and around world.


[1] Joint release by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, 27 August 2020, News release, Geneva