The ISSTD Committee to the UN continues our macro level advocacy for mental health through active participation in United Nations meetings, which are currently being held virtually. We have recently submitted our quadrennial report to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) detailing our activities over the last four years. While the United Nations is a very complex organization to navigate, members of the UN Committee have put in much effort to find opportunities for representing the ISSTD at various meetings.
In February 2021, we co-sponsored, with the NGO Committee on Mental Health: COVID-19: Coping with Trauma, Building Resilience. We heard from ISSTD member B. Abel Learwellie, who is the Executive Director of Camp for Peace Liberia, about his experience over the years in Liberia with multiple traumas of civil war, Ebola and now Covid-19. (If you are interested in learning more about Abel and his organization read his interview in ISSTD News here (hyperlink))
Also in February, Co-Chair Ariel Lublin attended a seminar presented by the World Health Organization (WHO), focused on understanding the Post Covid-19 condition and to optimize the health of patients who have suffered from COVID-19. The seminar was based in Geneva, but presented virtually, enabling an international attendance. Ariel reported that mental health and PTSD were mentioned numerous times, recognizing that the illness itself, treatment in the ICU including being intubated and the anxiety of being sick were sources of severe mental health stressors.
In March we attended the annual Commission on the Status of Women, with many side and parallel events sponsored by organizations all over the world. One such event was Promoting Resilience: Women and Girls Thriving Following Adversities, sponsored by the NGO Committee on Mental Health.
In July, ISSTD’s statement to the 2021 ECOSOC High-Level Segment, was published in an ECOSOC document. Our powerful opening statement was:
Achieving Sustainable Development Goal #3, Good Health and Well-Being, must include universal and reliable access to mental-health care to assist individuals, families, communities, and societies who have endured traumatic life conditions – including violence, forced migration, poverty, inadequate healthcare, disasters, denial of human rights, lack of access to nutrition and education, isolation from social support, and other disruptive social conditions. Unsafe societal conditions disrupt healthy human development, in ways that are both communal and transgenerational, undermining future social and economic success even long after national, community, and personal de-stabilizing conditions may have improved.
ISSTD is represented actively at the NGO Committee on Mental Health, which sponsors many educational meetings each year. Our co-chair Karen Hopenwasser, is a Member at large on the Executive Committee and has a steady presence at these meetings, seeking ways to continue advocating for mental health awareness on the macro level. ISSTD’s Committee to the UN posts upcoming meetings that are open for anyone to attend. We invite ISSTD members to join and be a part of our involvement in the United Nations and have an impact on an international level.