The World Health Organisation, WHO, on Friday, highlighted urgent need to transform mental health and mental health care, urging decision makers to step up commitment and actions to change attitudes and approaches to mental health.
According to WHO, nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder, a staggering figure that is even more worrying, if you consider that it includes around one in seven teenagers.
The UN health agency stated that to make matters worse, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of common conditions such as depression and anxiety, went up by more than 25 per cent.
In its largest review of mental health since the turn of the century, WHO urged more countries to get to grips with worsening conditions.
It offered examples of good practices that should be implemented as quickly as possible, in recognition of the important role that mental health played in positive and sustainable development, at all levels.
“Everyone’s life touches someone with a mental health condition.
“Good mental health translates to good physical health and this new report makes a compelling case for change.
“The inextricable links between mental health and public health, human rights and socioeconomic development mean that transforming policy and practice in mental health can deliver real, substantive benefits for individuals, communities and countries everywhere.
“Investment into mental health is an investment into a better life and future for all,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said.
WHO stated that even before COVID-19 hit, only a small fraction of people in need of help had access to effective, affordable and quality mental health treatment, citing latest available global data from 2019.
For example, it stated more than 70 per cent of those suffering from psychosis worldwide, did not get the help they needed.
The gap between rich and poor nations highlights unequal access to healthcare, as seven in 10 people with psychosis receive treatment in high-income countries, compared to only 12 per cent in low-income countries.
The situation is more dramatic for cases of depression, WHO said, pointing to gaps in assistance across all countries – including high-income ones – where only one third of people who suffer from depression receive formal mental health care.
And although high-income countries offer “minimally-adequate” treatment for depression in 23 per cent of cases, this drops to just three per cent in low and lower middle-income countries.
“We need to transform our attitudes, actions and approaches to promote and protect mental health, and to provide and care for those in need.
“We can and should do this by transforming the environments that influence our mental health and by developing community-based mental health services capable of achieving universal health coverage for mental health,” Ghebreyesus said.