Implementing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in East Asia and the Pacific Region

Mental health is one of the most neglected health issues globally. Before COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 10–20 per cent of children and adolescents worldwide experienced poor mental health, with half of mental health conditions beginning by age 14. The Global Burden of Disease Study in 2013 estimated that depressive disorders and anxiety accounted for almost 10% of the total burden of disease among 15-19 year old’s globally, with suicide the second leading cause of death in this age group.

Despite this, there remains high unmet need for mental health and psychosocial support and services (MHPSS). This is particularly so for children and adolescents living in the East Asia and Pacific region because of the stigma around mental health, and substantial barriers to accessing quality services and support.

To better address mental health and psychosocial wellbeing for children and adolescents there is a need to mobilise all sectors-including health, education, social welfare / child protection, and the justice sector to ensure access to services and supports that respond to mental health needs, address risk and protective factors, and ensure a safe and enabling environment that promotes wellbeing.

The aim of this multi-country study is to identify how MHPSS can be implemented for children and adolescents in the East Asia and Pacific region.

Specifically, the project will:

  • Identify a priority package of MHPSS actions that relate to: responsive mental health services; prevention; and mental health promotion
  • Define the roles of key sectors in implementing MHPSS (health, education, social welfare, justice)
  • Explore how priority actions can be implemented, including what is needed to strengthen a multi-sectoral mental health system

This project is being conducted in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Thailand.




  • UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office
  • Institute for Clinical Research, National Institute of Health, Malaysia
  • Research Institute for Mindanao Culture, Xavier University, Philippines
  • Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Thailand


UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Doctor Elissa Kennedy

Co-Program Director, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; Co-Head Global Adolescent Health