The Significance of Sustainable Development Goal 3
The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Among these 17 ambitious goals, Goal 3 stands out with its emphasis on ensuring health and well-being for all at all ages. This goal is not just about promoting healthy lives but is also about acknowledging and addressing the factors that impede health and well-being, such as poverty, lack of education, and violence.
SDG 3: A Focus on Mental Health
In an enlightening podcast, psychiatrist Shekhar Saxena discusses the inclusion of mental health within Sustainable Development Goal 3. He underscores the urgent need to pay attention to mental health within the health agenda, particularly given the alarmingly high number of young people choosing to end their lives. In addition to this, the podcast also highlights the impact of socioeconomic factors on mental health, indicating the complex interplay of various elements that influence a person's mental well-being.
Structural Barriers to Mental Health
Our mental health is not just a matter of personal circumstances or biological factors. It is also deeply impacted by social, economic, and environmental conditions. Poverty, discrimination, and housing insecurity are among the structural barriers that people with mental illnesses often encounter. The need for equitable and universal access to healthcare and social protection, including income support for people with disabilities and those living in poverty, is therefore a crucial part of SDG 3.
The Importance of Resources and Policies
Addressing mental health issues requires not just awareness and understanding, but also resources and policies that support mental health initiatives. This includes access to free mental health services, mental health support for children and youth, and the need to address discrimination. However, in many parts of the world, the budget allocation for healthcare is decreasing, leading to high out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure for citizens. Experts suggest increasing the health budget to at least 8% of the total budget as a step towards achieving SDG 3.
The Role of Climate Change
The podcast also sheds light on an often overlooked aspect of mental health: the role of climate change. The changing climate and the associated risks and uncertainties can have profound effects on people's mental health, adding yet another layer of complexity to the challenge of ensuring health and well-being for all.
While progress has been made in some areas, there is a need for accelerated efforts to achieve the targets set by SDG 3. This includes focusing on training skilled healthcare professionals, raising public awareness about lifestyle choices, and improving the referral system for medical treatments. It is clear that ensuring health and well-being for all is not just about healthcare. It is about creating an environment that supports physical and mental health, and that requires a concerted effort from all of us.