Countdown 2030: new data dashboard will raise awareness of child and caregiver mental health

Published September 28, 2021

Countdown 2030, which launched earlier this week, is a new online dashboard that collates data on mental health by country. The Bernard van Leer Foundation is supporting the initiative as part of our global advocacy activities to improve mental health support for young children and their caregivers.

Cecilia Vaca Jones, the Foundation’s Executive Director, was among the speakers at a webinar to launch the initiative. She stressed the strong association between a caregiver’s mental health and the physical, cognitive and psychosocial development of their children.

Cecilia concluded with a call to “create awareness with data that allows us to identify gaps in order to take action”. She identified the main priorities as awareness raising, behaviour change, and informing policy makers about the need to create enabling environments for data collection and decentralize data to inform local solutions.

We now need more evidence on how best to prevent and treat caregiver mental health disorders: scaling up screening and referral in routine health visits, while raising awareness and tackling the stigma that often surrounds seeking help. Read more about the Foundation’s position on caregiver mental health in our two background papers.

Countdown 2030 was developed by United for Global Mental Health in partnership with the WHO, UNICEF, GlobalMentalHealth@Harvard, Global Mental Health Peer Network and The Lancet. It is the first independent monitoring and accountability mechanism that uses a broad and integrated set of indicators to monitor progress for mental health.

On this free and interactive dashboard, you can search for data on 53 mental health indicators by country. An accompanying report sets out the background to the project, explaining the data gap in mental health, how Countdown 2030 was developed, and how it can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It pays particular attention to the mental health of children and their caregivers, as the early years are critical in influencing mental health across the life course and the COVID-19 pandemic has especially affected the mental health of these groups. There will also be annual monitoring reports to analyse the data.

Bringing together data in this dashboard has made clear that significant gaps exist in knowledge on which many governments need to take action. At the launch event, the WHO’s Tarun Dua mentioned, that only a third of governments track their mental health expenditure and many cannot provide a breakdown of how it is spent. Common data gaps linked to our work include:

  • What percentage of parents had mental health education as part of pre-natal care?
  • Does the country have a mental health plan with indicators to enable monitoring?
  • What percentage of children aged under 5 have positive and stimulating home learning environments?

A more in-depth look at what the data tells us about caregiver and child mental health will be available in a policy brief, released on World Mental Health Day on October 10th.

Since its launch, the dashboard has been featured by Devex and in The Lancet Psychiatry.

On October 5, Cecilia Vaca Jones will present a workshop on “Sustaining the Political Momentum on Mental Health” at “Mind Our Rights, Now!” the Global Mental Health Summit, hosted by France’s Minister for Solidarity and Health and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs with the participation of policy makers, international organisations, civil society and academia.

The aim of Countdown 2030 is to inform action: to campaign, advocate, communicate and change policy and practice so that everyone, everywhere can have the best possible mental health – and in particular caregivers with young children. Collecting data on a subject recognises its importance and is a necessary foundation to advocate for change.