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[Perspectives] Shekhar Saxena: making mental health a development priority

Softly spoken Shekhar Saxena is a giant in the world of mental health. As Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO for the past 8 years—a role from which he stepped down in June, 2018—he has seen a shift in attitudes to mental health. “The seriousness with which mental health is taken at a political and societal level has certainly increased”, says Saxena. However, there is a chasm between commitments made by governments and what happens on the front line, he says: “When it comes to mental health, all countries are developing countries.