Mental health plays a key role in efforts to achieve social inclusion and equity, universal health coverage, access to justice and human rights, and sustainable development. COVID-19 has inevitably brought discussions and awareness of mental health to the forefront. This is especially pertinent for a region like Asia-Pacific – where stigma, taboo, and discrimination still heavily surround mental health – wherein an opportune moment is at hand to normalize the narrative around mental health.

We are presented with a critical opportunity to reimagine and re-strategize mental health care. Positive coping mechanisms and good practices are reported to be emerging in different countries and communities. Actions are being taken and organizations are introducing innovative initiatives to help overcome challenges and working to help meet mental health needs during these extraordinary times.
 
However, to sustain this and to reduce overall stigma regarding mental health will require sustained effort over months and years as the full impact of the pandemic is felt by communities across the world. Against this backdrop, we are thrilled to share with you this advocacy brief, MENTAL HEALTH IN THE TIME OF COVID-19, that captures recommendations on mental health needs and responses that are community-centered, rights-affirmative, and gender-transformative.

This brief is part of the series published by APCASO with support from UNFPA Asia and the Pacific and in partnership with our country partners. A virtual dialogue was conducted with experts and relevant stakeholders to generate discussion and recommendations that are reflected in this advocacy brief.