Millions Worldwide are Affected by Mental Illness
Did you know that four of the leading 10 causes of disability in the United States and other developed countries are mental disorders? Or that by 2020, major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability for women and children worldwide?
These are just two mental disorder-related statistics cited by the World Health Organization, whose goals include improving quality health; reducing health risks; promoting healthy lifestyles and settings; and responding to the underlying determinants of health.
World Mental Health Day is observed Oct. 10 every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
This year’s theme, “Dignity in Mental Health,” will address what can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions continue to live with dignity, through human rights-oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, respect for informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder.
Regardless of whether you know anyone with a mental disorder, this topic is relevant. Why? Because it is estimated that in America alone, serious mental illness costs the country $193.3 billion in lost earnings per year. The Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom reports that one fourth of its population will experience some sort of mental health problem in a given year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain.
In fact, mental illness affects an estimated 450 million people worldwide; but sadly, most people receive no help at all. The WHO states that “people with mental health conditions around the world are deprived of their human rights. They are not only discriminated against, stigmatized and marginalized, but are also subject to emotional and physical abuse in both mental health facilities and the community.” It further states that poor quality care due to lack of both qualified health professionals and dilapidated facilities leads to further violations.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness cites other related information that includes:
- One in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
- Nearly 10 percent of U.S. children and adolescents suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders.
- While all ages can be affected, youth and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
- Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions.
- With appropriate and effective medication and therapy, most people can experience a significant reduction in symptoms and an improved quality of life.
In April 2016, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization will co-host a meeting on global mental health, with a focus on depression and anxiety, to coincide with the 2016 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.