Blog - Mental health

Physical health is known to be a key part of international development as it lays the foundation for people to lead full lives. Without good health it is harder to attend school, be productive at work or be active in your community. Even though health is more than just physical health, for years many critical mental health issues and wellbeing were not properly considered in international development. In this blog, SI UN Representative Angelina Akhvlediani examines how the new global Sustainable Development Goals might change this and why this is important for women and girls.

"The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused on saving lives in poor countries. Now, in the SDGs health targets are focused on creating healthier societies and promoting wellbeing for everyone, worldwide. Within this, it is necessary to recognise the importance of the equality-needs of women, children, and the poorest, most disadvantaged groups to achieve true sustainable development. Global disparities in healthcare access stifle sustainable development. That the SDGs apply to every country means they go further and ask for more commitment and action from governments. Ultimately, if fully implemented, the SDGs could support us all being happier, healthier, and being able to lead fulfilled lives. This is also great news for promoting awareness and action on mental health issues, which have rarely featured as a critical aspect of health in development".

"Health is positioned by the SDGs as a key feature of human development in a more integrated manner than was the case for the MDGs. Social, environmental and economic determinants, such as education, income and urbanisation, all have an impact on health and, in turn, equally benefit from a healthy population. This integrated and holistic approach to development is a prominent feature of 'sustainable development'.
Stress Management Workshop-SI Moreton North, Australia: After a community consultation indicated that the community wanted help with stress management SI Moreton North collaborated with other organisations including Caboolture Regional Domestic Violence Service and Resource Centre, to empower people with resilience techniques. Through a workshop attendees learned strategies that enhanced their ability to cope better under adversity.
"Importantly health security, which was not mentioned in MDGs, is playing key role in SDGs. It recognises that natural disasters, disease outbreaks, war and other humanitarian crises are a major thread to sustainable development and impact people's health.

Angelina Akhvlediani has been a Representative for Soroptimist International at the United Nations since 2013, and has been a Soroptimist in both Georgia and the United States, where she is Past President of the Manhattan Club. She is a psychotherapist and gained her PhD in Psychology in 1998. At the United Nations she was Co-Convenor of the UN NGO Committee on Mental Health's Human Rights and Mental Health working group. She was also a member of the Communications Coordination Committee for the UN.

This year Angelina (above right) moves on from her role as SI UN Representative to explore new challenges. At CSW, she was thanked by Soroptimist International President, Yvonne Simpson for the commitment shown in Angelina's work at the United Nations. We join Yvonne in wishing Angelina every success and happiness for the future.