Mental illness, why bother if all goes well? Because the day it hits you or your loved ones, you may be faced with the harsh reality of “Mental Health in an unequal world”. Close to 1 billion people globally are living with a mental disorder. Yet, countries spend on avg. 2% of their national health budgets on mental health leaving a disproportionate gap between demand for mental health services and supply. Each year, October 10th marks Worlds Mental Health Day. This year the theme is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”.
Originally chosen by the World Federation for Mental Health, the theme Mental Health in an Unequal World” refers to the inequality in access to health services in low- and middle-income countries, where between 75% and 95% of patients with mental disorders have no access to mental health services at all. Despite the universal nature and the magnitude of mental illness, the gap between demand for mental health services and supply remains substantial.
The global pandemic along with the climate crisis and social disarrangement lead the world to a difficult place. To date, the pandemic is impacting people of all ages and backgrounds: Illness, economic impact, job insecurity, and most importantly, physical distancing leading to social isolation and millions of people facing mental health issues.
- Close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone can be affected.
- Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Globally, an estimated 5% of adults suffer from depression.
- Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds suffers from a mental disorder. Half of all such disorders begin by the age of 14, but most go undiagnosed and untreated.
- People with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia typically die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.
- One in 100 deaths is by suicide. It is the fourth leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29.
- The COVID -19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health.
The World Federation for Mental Health also addresses the disparity between mental health investment and overall health. On average, countries spend only 2% of their national health budgets on mental health. This has changed little in recent years. Despite the scale of mental illness, the gap between demand for mental health services and supply remains substantial. People with mental illness do not receive the health services they are entitled to and deserve, causing them to experience stigma and discrimination.
WFMH states, “Stigma and discrimination do not only affect people’s physical and mental health, stigma also affects their educational opportunities, current and future earning and job prospects, and also affects their families and loved ones. This inequality needs to be addressed because it should not be allowed to continue.”
The vision portrayed by WHO is a world where mental health is valued, promoted and protected. Where people affected by any of these disorders are able to exercise all their human rights and have access to high-quality health and social care.
The World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity for people to act together and highlight how inequality can be addressed to ensure that people can enjoy good mental health.