The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its Regional Framework for the Future of Mental Health in the Western Pacific 2023-2030. The framework acknowledges the importance of mental health for overall well-being. However, countries in the Western Pacific face unique challenges, including their vulnerability to climate-related issues. There are also vast disparities in access to mental health care due to the diverse range of healthcare systems, which vary from advanced to remote settings. Further, the region is affected by rapid urbanisation, social vulnerabilities (including poverty, economic pressures, and increasing drug use), and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which further impact mental health.


The Regional Framework emphasises four “enabling strategies” that serve as the foundation for key actions to realise its vision for the future of mental health. One of these core strategies is innovation in mental health through the utilisation of digital technologies. This approach recognises the potential of technology and social innovation to improve different aspects of mental health. It includes expanding digital mental health solutions and ensuring that individuals who are currently excluded from the healthcare system can benefit from them. By leveraging digital platforms, accessibility to mental health services can be enhanced, a continuum of care can be provided, and the effectiveness of mental health interventions can be increased. This digital focus aligns with the goal of creating an environment that transforms mental health care and promotes well-being for everyone in the region.

Key Takeaways


  • “…evidence-based strategies for reaching the unreached include: mobilizing traditional and spiritual or religious leaders who can help reduce stigma and other barriers to access; harnessing social capital in rural areas to maximize the protective and supportive impact of psychosocial interventions; and deploying digital mental health apps to overcome language barriers and logistical constraints in remote settings.”
  • “Telepsychiatry” has been in development for some time now, and the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to further promote the use of this intervention medium [across the Western Pacific region].”
  • “…the exciting frontiers offered by digital mental health, open up many possibilities for delivering and developing interventions, engaging various community voices and people with lived experience, and building the capacity of the next-generation mental health workforce.”
  • “…innovation has the potential to revolutionize all aspects of mental health – from promotion to prevention, management and recovery. This includes the development and scale-up of digital mental health tools, platforms and approaches – such as mobile technology, artificial intelligence, social media, data science, etc. – to enhance and transform mental health. Innovation also refers to social innovations that are grounded in local contexts, wisdom and insights, such as Indigenous models of care that may be more acceptable to the community.”
  • “A robust digital infrastructure enabled the Government of Hong Kong SAR (China) to reach the public with key messages and various other initiatives to enhance mental health literacy and encourage appropriate health-seeking behaviour. Investments in social marketing and the development of digital resources, combined with the involvement of public personalities (artists, influencers, etc.) and civil society organizations in campaign implementation, contributed to the wide reach and impact of mental health promotion activities.”



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