Nearly a billion people have a mental disorder: WHO


To make matters worse, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of common conditions such as depression and anxiety has risen by more than 25 percent, the United Nations Health Agency (WHO) said Friday.

In its largest overview of mental health since the turn of the century, the World Health Organization has urged more countries to address deteriorating conditions.

It has provided examples of good practice that should be implemented as soon as possible, in recognition of the important role mental health plays in positive and sustainable development, at all levels.

Tedros: convincing plea for change

Everyone’s life touches someone with a mental illnessWHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. †Good mental health translates into good physical health and this new report makes a compelling case for change

“The inseparable links between mental health and public health, human rights and socio-economic development mean that: transforming mental health policy and practice can deliver real, substantial benefits for individuals, communities and countries everywhere. Investing in mental health is an investment in a better life and a better future for everyone.”

Even before COVID-19 hit, only a small fraction of people who needed help had access to effective, affordable and quality mental health care, the WHO said, citing the latest available global data from 2019.

For example more than 70 percent of those suffering from psychosis worldwide are not getting the help they needaccording to the UN agency.

Haves and have nots

The gap between rich and poor countries points to unequal access to health care, as seven in ten people with psychosis receive treatment in high-income countries, compared to just 12 percent in low-income countries.

The situation is: more dramatic for cases of depressionsaid the WHO, pointing to gaps in aid provision in all countries — including high-income countries — where only a third of people suffering from depression receive formal mental health care.

And while high-income countries offer ‘minimally adequate’ treatment for depression in 23 percent of cases, this drops to just three percent in low- and low-middle-income countries

We must change our attitudes, actions and approaches to promote and protect mental health, and to provide and care for those in needWHO said Tedros. “We can and must do this by transforming the environments that impact our mental health and by developing community-based mental health services capable of achieving universal mental health coverage.

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