World Mental Health Day is October 10, and as Americans, we’re familiar with the ever-growing concerns around behavioral and mental health, but the crisis spans much farther than the borders of the United States. Governments from around the globe are coming together to raise awareness and improve the quality and access to mental health services for all people, a much-needed and notably praiseworthy endeavor.

A Spotlight on Destigmatizing Mental Illness – The Time is Now

World Mental Health Day couldn’t come at a better time when the already bleak mental health crisis facing citizens from around the world has been significantly worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of people now suffering the aftermath. Billions of people around the world struggle with feelings of anxiety, fear, isolation, and depression and are challenged with behavioral health issues like addiction. Unfortunately, many lack access to quality resources, and much must be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people worldwide.

Mental Healthcare For All: Let’s Make It A Reality

In support of World Mental Health Day’s mission of raising public awareness, eliminating stigma, and advocating for better healthcare for all people, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides compelling data. What do you think?

The Argument for Mental Health Awareness and Support:

  • Close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected.
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • Globally, one in seven 10 to 19-year-olds experience a mental disorder. Half of all such disorders start by age 14 years, but most are undetected and untreated.
  • People with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia tend to die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.
  • One in every 100 deaths is by suicide. It is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on people’s mental health.

The Mental Healthcare Gap:

  • Despite the universal nature and magnitude of mental health disorders, the gap between demand for mental health services and supply remains substantial.
  • Relatively few people around the world have access to quality mental health services.
  • The serious gaps that still exist in mental healthcare are a result of chronic under-investment over many decades in mental health promotion, prevention and care.
  • Stigma, discrimination and human rights abuse of people with mental health conditions remain widespread.

The Economic Cost of Ignoring Mental Health Concerns:

  • The lost productivity resulting from depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental disorders, costs the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year.

The Mental Healthcare Investment Deficit:

  • On average, countries spend just 2% of their national health budgets on mental health. This has changed little in recent years.
  • Despite an increase of development assistance for mental health in recent years, it has never exceeded 1% of development assistance for health.

Positive Outcomes of Proper Mental Healthcare:

  • Some of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, can be treated with talk therapies, medication, or a combination of these.
  • For every $1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety, there is a return of $5.
  • For every $1 invested in evidence-based treatment for drug dependence, there is a return of up to $7 in reduced crime and criminal justice costs.
  • General health workers can be trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
  • Regular health checks of people with severe mental disorders can prevent premature death.
  • The quality of life of people living with conditions such as autism and dementia can be greatly improved when their caregivers receive appropriate training.
  • The rights of people living with mental health conditions can be protected and promoted through mental health legislation, policy, development of affordable, quality community-based mental health services and the involvement of people with lived experience.

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