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Global Trends in Mental Health and the Impact It Has on the Attainment of the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal: Good Health and Well-being


The complex relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and Global Mental Health (GMH) is examined in this study. The comprehensive aspect of mental health is emphasized by the fact that, although the third SDG explicitly addresses mental health, our analysis shows that the factors influencing mental well-being span numerous SDGs. Global mental health outcomes can be significantly improved by addressing factors included in other SDGs. The study uses a rigorous methodology to examine reports from credible international organizations from the previous ten years. The results highlight the necessity of an all-encompassing strategy that extends beyond tailored goals and highlights the connections between mental health and factors such as poverty rates, access to childcare, overall health, gender equality, economic growth, peace, justice, and decreased inequities. In order to help achieve SDG 3 and mental health justice, the study offers insights into global trends in mental health. It suggests methods for governments, practitioners, and stakeholders to incorporate mental health concerns into the larger sustainable development framework.


Global Mental Health (GMH) is a rapidly developing field that aims to promote mental health, overall well-being, and fair treatment for people worldwide. GMH prioritizes transdisciplinary methods in its efforts to address the worldwide burden of mental health problems while respecting the rights of all people and the principles of mental health fairness (Collins, 2020; Bass et al., 2023). Over the last fifteen years, the field has been increasingly important, focusing on addressing the historical undervaluation of mental health and reducing care inequalities between countries with different resources (Weinmann & Koesters, 2016; Adiukwu et al., 2022).

GMH’s dedication to addressing the mental health needs of all nations, emphasizing those most at risk of experiencing mental health inequities, is fundamental to the organization (Moitra et al., 2023). In 2018, the Lancet Commission on GMH and Sustainable Development established four fundamental pillars that provided a conceptual framework for the area. These pillars state that mental health is a universal public good, that mental health issues are multifaceted, that social, environmental, genetic, and biological factors all play a significant role in an individual’s mental health, and that mental health is an inalienable human right that calls for a rights-based approach (Moitra et al., 2023; Patel et al., 2018).

Notwithstanding these fundamental ideas, the prevalence of mental and drug use problems has increased globally and is currently the primary cause of disability (Bass et al., 2023). Remarkably, this burden is exacerbated by a widespread “mental health treatment gap,” wherein over 70% of people globally who require mental health services are unable to receive the proper care (Wainberg et al., 2017). Interestingly, this difference still exists despite the effectiveness of evidence-based mental health interventions, especially in settings with limited resources (Wainberg et al., 2017).

The lack of culturally appropriate screening tools and interventions, the difficulty of integrating services into current mental health systems, and the lack of adequate human resources and expertise for service delivery are all significant obstacles to improving global mental health (Quereshi et al., 2021). The adaptation of mental health detection, treatment, promotion, and preventive measures to varied cultural contexts has been primarily attributed to the work of formative research. Employing regional providers in conjunction with cutting-edge strategies like mobile health (mHealth) has proven effective in reducing workforce strains, boosting sustainability, boosting mental health literacy, and raising participant uptake and engagement (Quereshi et al., 2021). As we explore the complex field of global mental health, these breakthroughs and challenges show us how to go forward to achieve both the overarching objective of good health and well-being, as stated in the Sustainable Development Goals, and mental health justice.

Review of Related Literature

Mental Health and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

A critical relationship runs between mental health and the larger field of global development, and this relationship is present in several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focal point of this collaboration is Sustainable Development Goal 3, a fundamental goal that was endorsed by every country in 2015 and aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” This objective marked a turning point in history by clearly integrating mental health issues into international goals (Heymann & Sprague, 2023). Target 3.4 called for countries to “promote mental health and well-being,” with a focus on treatment and prevention to reduce premature mortality by one-third. Target 3.5 also included a commitment by nations to “strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.” The slow progress in reducing worldwide suicide rates—which declined by only 3% between 2015 and 2019—indicates that, despite these targets being a significant step forward, there are obstacles in the way of achieving these goals (Heymann & Sprague, 2023).

Since mental health is so vital to SDG 3, it also affects other SDGs, especially those that deal with poverty (SDG 1) and inequality reduction (SDG 10) (Goodwin & Zaman, 2023). Comprehensive measures are necessary due to the complex interaction between mental health and other dimensions of well-being. Despite this interdependence, mental health issues are not well represented by the SDG indicators as they stand. For example, although SDG indicator 3.b.3 assesses the accessibility of necessary medications in healthcare facilities, mental health therapies are not expressly included in the measurement (Heymann & Sprague, 2023). Similarly, there is no particular emphasis on mental health care providers in the “health worker density and distribution” metric.

Furthermore, Goals 3 and 4 highlight the interaction between mental and physical health, emphasizing that improving mental health requires improving physical health and vice versa (Dybdahl & Lien, 2017). For example, substance addiction not only puts one’s physical health in danger but can also hurt one’s mental health, making conditions like depression worse and making it more difficult to seek treatment. The connections between mental health, psychological well-being, and education (SDG 4) are similarly straightforward. These factors significantly impact Children’s learning experiences, especially when humanitarian situations arise. The necessity of addressing mental health issues from an early age is highlighted by Early Childhood Development (ECD), which is closely related to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Dybdahl & Lien, 2017). The necessity for an all-encompassing strategy is highlighted by the long-term effects of early deprivation and toxic stress on development generally, education, and mental and physical health.

Therefore, the community context becomes increasingly important to promote mental health as we work towards accomplishing the SDGs. Giving resilience a priority becomes crucial when mental health is seen as a human rights and economic necessity. The World Health Organization defines mental health as the capacity to manage one’s life’s obstacles and make a meaningful contribution to society. This is consistent with the concept of resilience. Achieving the SDGs by 2030 will need a dedicated effort to promote mental health at the individual, community, and global levels to guarantee that everyone can participate in the revolutionary changes necessary for a sustainable and just future.

Methodology of the Study

This study looks at how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN and global mental health intersect using a thorough and rigorous methodology. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development, and reports from mental health-focused NGOs are just a few of the respectable international organizations that have produced reports on mental health and well-being that served as the primary data sources for this study.

The selection of reports is predicated on a methodical assessment of the literature covering the previous ten years to guarantee the inclusion of the most recent and pertinent material. The focus on global mental health and the SDGs they cover—such as poverty rates, access to childcare, gender equality, good health, excellent jobs and economic growth, peace, justice, and decreased inequalities—have led to the selection of these publications. Considering the SDGs, every chosen report undergoes a rigorous analysis to extract relevant data about the factors that have been found to influence mental health. Because these variables are established by the metrics listed in the SDGs, there is a strong correlation between mental health and more general development goals. For example, early childhood development and education measures are used to evaluate childcare availability, while economic indicators and income distribution data are used to analyze poverty rates.

A methodical cross-referencing procedure creates a distinct connection between the variables found and the SDGs. This entails matching the given data on mental health factors to the SDG indicators. To ensure a more profound knowledge of the interconnectedness, the study, for instance, cross-references the information about the influence of poverty rates on mental health with SDGs 1 (No Poverty) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities). Analysis, both quantitative and qualitative, is performed on the gathered data. While utilizing statistical approaches, including regression models, correlation analyses, and trend analyses, quantitative methods identify patterns and correlations between SDG indicators and mental health variables. In qualitative studies, content analysis is used to find essential themes, storylines, and policy implications in the reports.


Finally, this study has explored the complex relationship that exists between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and global mental health. Although the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is the cornerstone that specifically addresses mental health, our analysis shows that the variables and factors affecting mental well-being are present in several SDGs. This connectivity emphasizes how global mental health is holistic, calling for an all-encompassing strategy that goes beyond individualized objectives. Our results indicate that addressing the variables incorporated into the other SDGs may significantly impact global mental health outcomes. The SDGs greatly influence the complex web of factors influencing mental health globally about poverty rates (SDG 1), childcare access (SDG 4), good health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), good jobs and economic growth (SDG 8), peace and justice (SDG 16), and reduced inequalities (SDG 10).

With its specific focus on “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages,” the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) becomes the primary means of addressing mental health issues worldwide. Nevertheless, our research argues that accomplishing this objective requires collaborative efforts throughout the entire range of SDGs. A favorable mental health promotion and treatment environment can be established by carefully matching activities and policies with the larger SDG framework. In addition to identifying worldwide trends in mental health, our research uses the third SDG’s indicators as a framework for analysis. This strategy makes it possible to comprehend the opportunities and difficulties associated with accomplishing global mental health goals in a nuanced manner. The study highlights the necessity of integrating mental health considerations into the larger framework of sustainable development, moving beyond the conventional silos of mental health therapies.

Our study offers suggestions for stakeholders in global mental health, governments, and medical practitioners considering these revelations. These suggestions are based on a multifaceted strategy that maximizes the impact of different SDGs. SDG 3 is achievable through initiatives focused on social justice, economic growth, gender equality, improved access to childcare, and poverty reduction.


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-Dr Joanne Elizabeth Wescott