Priority given to addressing issues related to mental health

According to the United Nations, after two years of the pandemic, there are currently around 1 billion people in the world living with anxiety, depression, and mental disorders. Mental health-related issues are posing challenges on a global scale, which, if not promptly addressed by the world ’ s priorities, will lead to unpredictable consequences.
Priority given to addressing issues related to mental health

According to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, about 12% of the world’s population suffered from mental disorders.

The protracted epidemic was exacerbated when, in the first year of the pandemic, the proportion of people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders increased by more than 25% globally.

The consequences of mental health disorders are extremely unpredictable for society. According to WHO, about 12 billion working days are lost each year due to depression and anxiety. The cost of treating mental health problems amounts to about 1 trillion USD a year globally.

According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the COVID-19 pandemic has created many social stressors, contributing to an increased risk of mental illnesses and substance abuse.

Reuters cited a report by the US Congress saying that, due to the pandemic, the “crisis” of opioid overdose in the US has cost the world's No. 1 economy nearly 1.5 trillion USD in losses in 2020, and this number is expected to increase.

These are the consequences, but in reality, most countries have not focused on investing in people’s mental healthcare. In 2020, governments around the world spend an average of just over 2% of their health budgets on mental health services. Currently, in some countries, there are only 2 mental health doctors per 100,000 people on average.

CCLA, a charity investment management company in the UK, has announced the results of a study showing that very few businesses care about the mental health of their employees. Assessing the world's 100 largest businesses, CCLA found that only 15% of businesses set goals for employees’ mental health.

82% clearly see the link between good employee morale and good financial results of the business. However, less than a third of enterprises have a formal policy in this regard.

There is still a large gap in access to mental healthcare between countries. More than 70% of people with mental health problems in high-income countries have received treatment, while in low-income countries the figure is only 12%.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) emphasised that the impact of violence and humanitarian crises is not limited to economic consequences, but also to invisible emotional wounds on communities.

Africa has one of the highest numbers of children and young people in the world, and these are also the most vulnerable. Communities in Africa are under increasing pressure from climate shock, inflation and economic hardship.

In his message on the occasion of World Mental Health Day (October 10), United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasised the need to strengthen mental health-related services, especially for young people and adolescents, mainstreaming this issue into the community-based general health system.

The head of the largest multilateral organisation on the planet also called on the world to prioritise addressing the root causes of mental health diseases, such as violence, abuse, coercion, inequality and conflict.

Good mental health contributes to good physical health, which has a strong impact on individual happiness as well as the development of society. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations will not be achieved without the world investing properly in improving mental health for all.