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May 6 '22, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Launch of the High-level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19


May 6, 2022


10:00 AM – 11:00 AM ADT

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CET


PAHO’s Zoom platform


English and Spanish


The pandemic has disrupted health and social services, education, and community activities, and has devastated the economies of countries in the Americas, particularly those that are highly dependent on external sources of income, such as tourism. Unemployment has risen dramatically, and poverty and inequality have also increased. As a consequence of this, the mental health of people of all ages and socioeconomic groups across the Region has been negatively impacted.

Recent studies in the Region have shown high rates of depression and anxiety as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women, young people, those with pre-existing mental health conditions, health workers, and persons living in vulnerable conditions. Mental health and substance use services have also been severely disrupted by the pandemic. A lack of financial and human resource investments in mental health services, and the limited implementation of the community-based care model have contributed to the current mental health situation. At the same time, the Region has seen innovations in tele-mental health, and a scaling up of mental health and psychosocial support to address gaps in services. The pandemic has therefore created an opportunity for strengthening and improving mental health using transformational approaches to build back better and fairer.

To achieve this, however, far greater political will, financing, community mobilization, and social change are needed to ensure that mental health is afforded the priority it deserves, as part of rebuilding health and social systems, post COVID-19. To this end, the Pan American Health Organization has established a High-Level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19 to guide the Organization and its Member States in improving mental health in the Americas.

Program and speakers

10:00am – 10:10am

  • Welcome Remarks
    • Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization

10:10am – 10:15am

  • Opening Remarks
    • H.E. Ms. Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica and Chair of the Commission

10:15am – 10:20am

  • Introductory Remarks (To be determined)

10:20am – 10:30am

  • Promoting and Protecting Youth Mental Health During and After COVID-19
    • The Honourable Julio Borba, Minister of Health,  Paraguay

10:30am – 10:40am

  • Financing Mental Health Now and for the Future
    • The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago

10:40am – 10:55am

  • Overview of the Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19
    • Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, Pan American Health Organization

10:55am – 11:00am

  • Closing Remarks
    • Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, Assistant Director, Pan American Health Organization


Follow the link to register, here.