Almost a billion people suffer from mental disorders: WHO |
To make matters worse, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of common illnesses such as depression and anxiety rose by more than 25%, the United Nations health agency said on Friday. (WHO).
In its biggest review of mental health since the turn of the century, the World Health Organization urged more countries to deal with worsening conditions.
He offered examples of good practice that should be implemented as soon as possible, in recognition of the important role that mental health plays in positive and sustainable development, at all levels.
Tedros: compelling arguments for change
“Everyone’s life touches someone with a mental health problemsaid WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “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 socio-economic development mean that transforming mental health policy and practice can deliver real and substantial benefits for individuals, communities and countries around the world. Investing in mental health is investing in a better life and future for all.
Even before COVID-19 arrived, only a small fraction of people in need of help had access to effective, affordable and quality mental health treatment, the WHO said, citing the latest available global data from 2019. .
For example, more than 70% of people with psychosis worldwide don’t get the help they needsaid the UN agency.
The haves and the have-nots
The gap between rich and poor countries highlights the inequality in access to health care, as seven out of 10 people with psychosis receive treatment in high-income countries, compared to only 12% in countries low income.
The situation is more dramatic for cases of depressionthe WHO said, pointing to gaps in support in all countries – including high-income countries – where only a third of people with depression receive formal mental health care.
And although high-income countries offer “minimally adequate” treatment for depression in 23% of cases, this figure drops to just three percent in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
“We must transform our attitudes, actions and approaches to promote and protect mental health, and to provide and care for those in need“, said Tedros of the WHO. “We can and must do this by transforming the environments that influence our mental health and by developing community mental health services capable of achieving universal health coverage for mental health.