mental health

The importance of integrating mental health into preparedness and response plans for public health emergencies was emphasised by WHO Member States at the WHO Executive Board meeting held in January 2021.

Delegates expressed their strong support for the adoption of a Decision on this topic, proposed by Thailand, and co-sponsored by more than 40 Member States, at the 74th session of the World Health Assembly, due to meet in May 2021.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance of integrating mental health into preparedness and response plans for public health emergencies,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at the World Health Organisation, after the discussions had taken place.

“The inclusion of this issue at the next session of the World Health Assembly is an important next step towards being better prepared to provide people with the support they need for their mental health during future public health emergencies.”

During the discussions, a number of specific requests were made of the WHO Director-General:

— that technical support be provided to Member States for monitoring changes in and disruptions to mental health services;

— that WHO assist Member States in promoting and expanding access to inclusive, integrated, evidence-based primary and community mental health services and psychosocial support, including during public health emergencies;

— that WHO’s capacity in respect of work on mental health at global, regional and country levels be strengthened; and

— that mental health be systematically integrated into all aspects of the work of the WHO Secretariat on universal health coverage.

The Executive Board also

encouraged Member States:

— to develop and strengthen, as appropriate, and as part of a whole-of-society approach, the timely and quality provision of the full range of mental health services and psychosocial support as an integral part of the health system; and

— to allocate adequate funding for mental health, to mainstream knowledge of mental health among other health professionals, and to study the impact of Covid-19 on mental, neurological and substance use conditions and their consequences, sharing lessons learned with both the Secretariat and Member States.

Member States talked with concern of the particular impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on adolescents, women (partly due to increases in domestic abuse and sexual assault), people living in humanitarian settings, and people with substance abuse issues.

They also reported on the stigma, discrimination and human rights infringements that people infected with Covid-19, particularly frontline workers, had faced during the pandemic.

They highlighted approaches that are they felt are key to addressing the rising demand for mental health support in their countries, including: community-based approaches that are both affordable and accessible; provision of support through telehealth and digital means; and training for health-care workers and other frontline personnel in psychosocial support.

Both the proposal relating to preparedness for and response to the mental health consequences of humanitarian emergencies and the updated implementation options and indicators for the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 will be considered by the World Health Assembly in May.


International Women’s Day has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society and in their various fields. It is a day of celebration and reflection on all the progress women have made and to raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. But while there has been progress, there are still major obstacles that women continue to face.

“It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world.” Popular song and as truthful as night leads to day.

Having a chat with master guitarist Joey Ng Wai two nights ago, we realised just how far back our encounters with one another go. I asked him if he was in any other bands before Frantic. He told me he was actually part of a band called, Zoom and the Band when he was 13 years old.

A monthly round-up of news about Caribbean books and writers, presented by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Welcome to the latest instalment of the Bocas Book Bulletin, a monthly round-up of Caribbean literary news, curated by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, and published in the Sunday Express.

When he plays one finds oneself not only enthralled by his music, but also mesmerised by his dexterity.

Enrico “Gittarman” Camejo is one of the most skilled and versatile guitarists on the island. From classical to jazz, parang to soca and rock, Camejo plays it all with consummate ease. He’s also one of the most amiable, genuinely loving people you’ll ever encounter.

“When I’m feeling a little low I put on my favourite heels to stand a little taller…” — Dolly Parton

Meril Young walks confidently along the busy street in Morvant six feet tall in her favourite shoes. She is on route to the hospital. The usual street crowd of early morning limers and roadside workers watch her stride. We are talking via mobile phone as she paints the picture of her morning. “It’s a beautiful, sunny morning, I’m a bit tired from my last shift but God is good!”

Eighty-five years after the UK publication of the ground-breaking Minty Alley, the only novel by CLR James, at a time when Caribbean literature is once again seizing the attention of British audiences, the Bocas Lit Fest has joined forces with British organisations to celebrate Black British culture.