Mental Health Takes Center Stage at WHO’s Health For All Film Festival in Collaboration with docUNight

by Ella

As the world prepares to observe World Mental Health Day, UN City in Copenhagen is joining forces with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health for All Film Festival (HAFF) to illuminate the critical issue of mental health. This collaborative effort is part of the intra-agency United Nations initiative, docUNight, which will feature a screening of award-winning and officially selected HAFF short films, each delving into themes related to mental health and well-being. Following the screening, an engaging discussion and Q&A session with experts will take place, aimed at fostering dialogue, actions, and solutions to combat stigma and enhance the well-being of all individuals.


These short films offer glimpses into the lives of ordinary people who exhibit extraordinary determination and resilience while battling mental health challenges. Exploring topics such as depression, climate anxiety, schizophrenia, stigma, and homelessness, these films deliver a powerful message of hope, emphasizing the significance of connection, improved dialogue, and understanding.


This screening event aligns with the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the World Health Organization and its ongoing commitment to achieving “Health For All.”


About the Panelists

Paul Jerndal: An award-winning Swedish filmmaker and a dedicated advocate for mental health. Paul actively collaborates with organizations and non-profit initiatives in the mental health sphere, utilizing his films to raise awareness and drive positive change. His work sparks conversations that promote understanding, compassion, and self-reflection.


Rune Jorgensen: A voluntary ambassador with “One Of Us,” a Danish governmental campaign combatting societal stigma associated with mental health. Rune has 20 years of personal experience living with a mental health condition and is politically engaged. He views his advocacy as an integral part of the broader fight against stigma and self-stigma within society.

Dr. Ledia Lazeri: Dr. Ledia Lazeri serves as the Regional Adviser for Mental Health at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. She leads WHO’s efforts in various mental health areas, including policy and services, rights and advocacy. She also plays a pivotal role in implementing the WHO European Framework for Action in Mental Health 2021-2025 and supporting the pan-European Mental Health Coalition.

Mental Health Matters

Despite the significance of mental health, individuals with mental health conditions often struggle to access the support they require. The fear of discrimination and stigma frequently leads many to avoid disclosing their mental health conditions, potentially resulting in job loss, hiring difficulties, housing challenges, and strained relationships with friends and family.

Moreover, mental health services remain underfunded and inadequately resourced. On average, governments allocate only about 3.0% of their healthcare budgets to mental health services, despite an estimated 1 in 7 Europeans having a diagnosable mental health condition. Additionally, there is a scarcity of mental health workers, with approximately 45 professionals for every 100,000 people in the WHO European Region.

In response to these challenges, the WHO launched the pan-European Mental Health Coalition in 2021. The coalition aims to unite individuals and organizations committed to the belief that “mental health matters.” This includes healthcare professionals, academics, individuals living with mental health conditions, and their families. The overarching goal is to create a platform for sharing knowledge, insights, and experiences to advance mental health at the individual, community, national, and international levels.

The WHO Health For All Film Festival

The WHO Health for All Film Festival (HAFF) seeks to empower a new generation of filmmakers and video creators to champion global health issues. HAFF invites submissions from independent filmmakers, production companies, NGOs, communities, students, and film schools worldwide to create original short films addressing health-related topics.

The 2023 edition of HAFF, its fourth installment, witnessed a substantial focus on mental health, with European filmmakers contributing significantly. HAFF received hundreds of submissions from across the globe, spanning categories such as Universal Health Coverage, Health Emergencies, Better Health and Well-being, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Climate Change and Health, and Very Short Films. Since 2020, the Health for All Film Festival has received over 4,300 submissions from 110 countries.


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