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WHO: 1 Billion People Affected by Mental Health Issues Worldwide

Today is World Mental Health Day. It is marked every year on October 10 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness about mental health around the world and to mobilize efforts to support those experiencing mental health issues.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is ‘Make mental health for all a global priority”.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.

At least one in eight of us is affected by mental health issues. For a world population which is estimated at about 8 billion, that shows an average of about a billion people with mental health issues.

An estimated 12 billion working days are lost each year to depression and anxiety, which the WHO estimates costs the global economy nearly $1 trillion. Even where help is available, stigma and discrimination prevent many people from getting the care they need.

In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions.

Despite progress in some countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma.

Public attitudes towards mental illness are more rejecting than accepting. Social rejection increases with increasing severity of disturbance in behaviour.

Public attitudes towards the mentally ill are related to social class as measured by occupational status and to age of the respondent.

Many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remains substantial. Effective treatment coverage remains extremely low.

Increased investment is required on all fronts: for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigma; for efforts to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments and improve existing treatments for all mental disorders.

10 Facts on Mental Health

  • Mental, neurological and substance use disorders make up 10% of the global burden of disease and 25.1% of non-fatal disease burden.
  • Around 1 in 7 of the world’s adolescents have a mental disorder.
  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • Globally, mental disorders account for 1 in 6 years lived with disability.
  • More than 700,000 people die by suicide every year. Suicide accounts for 1 in 100 deaths globally. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in individuals aged 15-29 years.
  • Around 1 in 9 people in settings affected by conflict have a moderate or severe mental disorder.
  • People with severe mental disorders die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population.
  • In low-income countries there are fewer than one mental health staff per 100,000 population, compared with more than 60 in high-income countries
  • 40% of low-income countries do not include essential medicines that have been on the WHO Model list for essential medicines for decades, such as lithium carbonate mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder.
  • The global economy loses about US$ 1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety.

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