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World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2020: Investing in Mental Health

Mental health is one of the most underfunded areas of public health. However, almost 1 billion people worldwide struggle with a mental illness. Furthermore, 3 million people die from alcohol use disorder (AUD) every year. And sadly, 1 person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. And now, with billions around the world affected by Covid-19, the depth of mental health is coming to light. 

Unfortunately, very few people around have access to quality mental health care. For example, 75% of low-to-middle income countries have no treatment for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders (SUD). Furthermore, the stigma, discrimination, and human rights abuse is still a worldwide issue. 

What is World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on October 10th. The overall focus is on the importance of mental health awareness and support around the world. On this day, experts and mental health stakeholders talk about their work and how to help people worldwide.

The Focus of International Mental Health Day 2020

The focus of International Mental Health Day 2020 is, Move for mental health: let’s invest. Dr. Daniels, President of WFMH, says, “ Now more than ever greater investment in mental health is needed to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to mental healthcare. The under-investment in mental health has left large treatment gaps globally.” She also states, “ Mental health is an investment and not an expense and should be prioritized to avert a further catastrophe.”

International Mental Health Day: Commit to Your Mental Health

The World Mental Health Day campaign will offer online opportunities for each of us to support our mental health. We will also be given a chance to support our friends and families. If we are employers, we can put wellness programs in place. However, as governments, they are given a chance to swiftly up-scale mental health services within their country. Each person can step up and support the mental health of not only themself but for their neighbor.

Mental Health News: Facts and Stats

According to WHO, almost 450 million people worldwide live with mental disorders. However, the treatment gap is still large. In high-income countries, 50% of people still don’t have access to mental health treatment. In comparison, over 75% of people in low-to-middle income countries lack access to mental health care. 

According to WHO’s Mental Health Atlas 2014 survey, on average, 3% of a government’s health budget is spent on mental health. This percentage ranges from as high as 5% in high-income countries to less than 1% in low-income countries. However, to increase treatment, therapy, and antidepressant medication worldwide between 2016 and 2030 would only cost $147 billion U.S.

Even though it sounds like a lot of money, the return is greater than the cost. The WHO estimates that for every U.S.$1 invested in increasing mental health awareness, the return is $4 in improved health and productivity. But, despite the importance of mental health awareness, investment in mental health is not increasing. 

Mental Health News: Mental Health in the United States

According to the NIMH, there were over 46 million American adults with mental illness in 2017. That is almost 20% of U.S. adults. Other facts and mental health news to help better understand the importance of mental health awareness include:

  • Mental health is defined as a good mental state—for example, emotionally well and functions properly. 
  • Mental illness, or mental health disorder, affects mood, thinking, and behavior. 
  • Mental illness was most prevalent in young adults between 18 and 25. That is over 25%, according to the NIMH.
  • Over 11 million adults have a severe mental illness, such as major depression and schizophrenia. 
  • Severe mental illnesses left untreated often leads to suicide. Unfortunately, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in 2018. Sadly, 48,000 people took their own life because of the lack of mental health care. 
  • In addition, suicide was the fourth leading cause in people between 25 and 54. While in 10 to 34-year-olds, it was the second leading cause of death.

As more and more people realize the importance of mental health awareness, the more people seek treatment. The NIMH also says that over 11 million Americans have a severe mental illness; over 66% received treatment. 

Effects of the Pandemic and the Importance of Mental Health Awareness

Before the pandemic, mental health issues across the globe were on the rise. However, the lockdowns in place to reduce Covid-19 and increased isolation also brought on depression and other mental health issues. On top of that, job loss and financial stress led to an increase in substance use

HRH Princess Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah of Malaysia, Patron of World Mental Health Day, says,

“While Covid-19 has increased the spotlight on mental health, the stocktaking of how greater access to mental healthcare can be improved must always be a continuous process. We can always do more to strengthen mental health response and support in our communities.” She also says, “These investments are not purely the government’s responsibility, nor should doctors be the only answer for those suffering. These investments are the responsibility of all. More importantly, they indicate that we ourselves are an untapped resource in mental healthcare.”

How Does International Mental Health Day Benefit the World?

Although WHO is hard at work every day, World Mental Health Day helps bring light to many of the world’s ongoing struggles. This year, 2020, the goal is to end the stigma and discrimination against mental illness. Specific mental health issues include:

About WHO: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder

The World Health Organization has a whole department that focuses on preventing mental illness and substance use disorders. They also promote the expansion of access to affordable care to everyone. They especially focus on those in the poorest of countries. 

WHO’s Mental Health Unit leads the work in:

  • Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian and public health emergencies
  • Care of mental disorders in specialized and non-specialized health care
  • Training of the mental health workforce
  • Research in psychological interventions
  • Mental health in the workplace
  • Suicide prevention
  • Mental health economics

WHO’s Alcohol, Drug, and Addictive Behaviors Unit benefits the world by:

  • Promote evidence-based policies, strategies, and interventions
  • Provide guidance and assistance on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders
  • Gather data to enact changes in treatment development

International Mental Health Day: Organization Involvement

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is the global leader in public health within the United Nations. It was founded in 1948. WHO works to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. They work with 194 Member States, across 6 regions of the world. They also have 150 global offices. 

The goals of WHO for 2019-2023 are:

  • Ensure a billion more people have universal health coverage
  • Protect a billion more from health emergencies
  • Provide a billion more people with better health and well-being 

United for Global Mental Health

United for Global Mental Health brings the government and the mental health community together in support of mental health. Their goal is to make sure everyone everywhere has access to mental health services. This not-for-profit group was launched in September 2018 at the UN. 

United for Global has a nationally driven globally united campaign known as Speak your Mind. Speak your Mind supports mental health for all. It brings together mental health experts and organizations to call on governments to focus on the importance of mental health awareness. They want world leaders to increase funding and education to end the neglect of mental health issues. 

19 countries involved in this campaign are Argentina, Australia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tonga, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The World Federation for Mental Health

The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is an international membership organization. It was founded in 1948 to increase mental health awareness across the globe. WFMH focuses on preventing mental and emotional disorders and proper treatment for such disorders. 

5 Things to do on International Mental Health Day

  1. Educate yourself about mental health – The more you know about mental illness, the more you will be able to help yourself and your loved ones. 
  2. Advocate for wellness programs at work – If you don’t have a wellness program at work, it never hurts to ask about one. There are virtual programs available to employers. In addition, there are many meditation apps you can download.
  3. Practice kindness – It’s not that hard to be kind, right? No, however, it’s easy to get busy in our own lives and forget to be kind. So stop, look away from your phone and remember….a small act of kindness can change a person’s life. 
  4. Support friends and family – Many people who struggle with mental illness feel alone. So if you have a friend or family member struggling, reach out, let them know you are there. You don’t have to fix it. Just listen without judgment.
  5. Speak out about the importance of mental health awareness – Talk about it. As hard as it is, talking about your own mental health struggles helps lower the stigma around mental health. And who knows, you may encourage someone else to speak out. 

Find Help at Sana Lake Recovery Center 

If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental illness or substance use disorder, they are not alone. Our caring trained professionals are waiting to show you how we can help. Contact us today and start your path to a better life. 

References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/27-08-2020-world-mental-health-day-an-opportunity-to-kick-start-a-massive-scale-up-in-investment-in-mental-health

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3981564/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/mental-health/art-20046477

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.