Our thoughts for this year’s World Mental Health Day…
World Mental Health Day is a marker in the sand each year that invites us to pause and collect ourselves around a theme that illuminates a global need. This year, the theme is making mental health a global priority.
- Around the world, 1 in 4 (or 792 million) people will be affected by mental ill-health at some point in their lives.
- Mental health conditions now cause 1 in 5 years lived with disability.
- Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
- Approximately one in five people in post-conflict settings have a mental health condition.
- The most common mental disorders (anxiety – which an estimated 4% of the global population suffer from – and depression), cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year.
Yet despite these figures, the global median of government health expenditure that goes to mental health is less than 2%.
What’s more, true prevalence of mental health statistics are poorly understood. Mental health is underreported and under-diagnosed, and the spectrum of mental ill-health is incredibly broad.
Whilst it may seem as though diagnostic rates are on the rise, prevalence has actually remained relatively stable over the last 20 years. However, we’re seeing sobering changes in the data, with child mental health problems become more and more common, the impact of which we’ll see in years to come.
Another area that’s seeing growth in diagnostic rates is eating disorders. Eating disorders are mental illnesses. They can (and often do) have significant physical health implications – which must be treated in tandem – but at their core, they are mental illnesses.
In 2019, 14 million people around the world experienced eating disorders, including almost 3 million children and adolescents.
In the UK alone, hospital admissions for eating disorders increased by 84% in the last 5 years, with children and young people the worst affected, seeing a rise of 90% in the five year period (adults, 79%).
Mental health must be a global priority because it impacts all areas of our lives.
In the UK, around 30% of all people with a long-term physical health conditions also have a mental health problem. And the effect of poor mental health on physical illnesses is estimated to cost the NHS at least £8 billion a year.
With mental health a global priority, we can ensure efforts work to prevent mental illness where possible, intervene early when mental illness develops, and provide recovery-focused treatment for better, sustainable outcomes.