Strengthening Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Care through WHO’s Special Initiative for Mental Health

Implementing Organization
World Health Organization [WHO], in collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC]
Description

WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health is underway in nine countries across all WHO regions. The initiative focuses on two key strategies; advancing mental health policies, advocacy and human rights; and scaling up quality interventions and services for individuals with mental health conditions, including substance use disorders. This proposal aims to assist WHOs Special Initiative for Mental Health countries to increase coverage and improve the quality of treatment and care for people with substance use disorders. 

Background

WHOs Special Initiative for Mental Health was launched in 2019 aiming to ensure access to mental health services for 100 million more people. Currently, the Special Initiative for Mental Health is underway in nine countries across all WHO regions (Argentina, Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe). The initiative focuses on two key strategies; advancing mental health policies, advocacy and human rights; and scaling up quality interventions and services for individuals with mental health conditions, including substance use disorders.  

While substance use disorders (SUDs) are implicitly mentioned within the scope of the Special Initiative for Mental Health, there are limited activities in participating countries to address them. This is due to specific challenges associated with the provision of treatment and care for people with SUDs. For example, treatment of SUDs is often provided outside traditional mental health services and requires involvement of additional stakeholders and professional supports. There is a need to strengthen this track within the Special Initiative for Mental Health to effectively address unacceptably high burdens of disease associated with SUDs.  

This proposal aims to assist WHOs Special Initiative for Mental Health countries to increase coverage and improve the quality of treatment and care for people with substance use disorders. This will be achieved by compiling and implementing a “SIMH-SUDs Package” guiding and assisting Ministries of Health in performing situational analysis, policy dialogue, implementation, and capacity building to adopt effective measures that reflect individual country needs and priorities, health system structures and policy environments. The SIMH-SUDS Package will be developed in consultation with leading experts and stakeholders from Special Initiative for Mental Health countries; and implemented in collaboration with Ministries of Health in interested countries.  

WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health
 

Transforming national mental health systems: best practices from the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health  

Accomplishments to Date

Updates on the overall Mental Health Special initiative can be found here: 

In 2022, WHO organized assessment and planning mission to Zimbabwe, which UNODC joined, to provide assistance and support for the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Drug and Substance Use and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) with a focus on alcohol and drug use prevention, treatment and care and seek opportunities for further technical assistance to the country and other Special Initiative countries.  

Project Activities
  • Launch a strategy to integrate substance use disorder treatment and care in the framework of WHO’s Special Initiative for Mental Health as part of Universal Health Coverage, linking with the UNODC-WHO Programme on drug Dependence Treatment and Care. 
  • Situational analysis to inform policy dialogue with specific focus on substance use disorders in local contexts with regard to service delivery, health workforce, health information system, access to medicines, financing and governance. The situational analysis will inform policy dialogue among stakeholders to reach agreement on key policy solutions and determine concrete priority areas for discussions and action- planning. Consultations (i.e., planning workshops) will facilitate consensus on key actions needed. 
  • Development of Special Initiative Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Package (SIMH-SUDs Package) through expert group meetings and consultations, review process, editing, design and layout. The development of this package will also include a Monitoring and Evaluation module with set of indicators and data collection tool.  
  • Adapt and test SIMH-SUD package to demonstrate feasibility in at least three countries which includes a situational analysis in each country, workshops to guide policy dialogue and action planning.  
  • Implementation and capacity building workshops for policy makers and decision makers and health practitioners in three countries prior to global dissemination. Support to countries in follow-up activities based on action plans produced. 
  • Monitoring and evaluation phase will include data collection on process and impact indicators and their analysis according to M&E framework. 
Global Level Outcomes
  • Enhanced access to integrated treatment of substance use disorders and other mental health disorders in selected countries of the WHO Special Initiative on Mental Health 
  • Assessment of feasibility and lessons learnt from the strategic integration of both mental health and substance use disorder treatment services in low-and-middle income countries for future scale up 
National Level Outcomes
  • Enhanced capacity for the provision and monitoring of integrated substance use disorder treatment and other mental health disorder treatment and care services at national level.  
  • Increased understanding on effective ways to develop integrated health and social system responses to substance use disorders and co-occurring other mental health disorders and the provision of integrated care concepts. 

Current State Participants 

Argentina, Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe have so far become part of WHOs Special Initiative for Mental Health, which is aiming to ensure access to mental health services for 100 million more people across WHOs six regions. 

Contact

Alison Schafer (aschafer [at] who [dot] int (aschafer[at]who[dot]int) ) Dzmitry Krupchanka (krupchankad [at] who [dot] int (krupchankad[at]who[dot]int) ) Anja Busse (anja [dot] busse [at] un [dot] org (anja[dot]busse[at]un[dot]org) )