The first ever Global Mental Health Summit, being held in Athens, Greece has reported that by 2030 depression will be the single biggest cause for burden out of all health conditions. The scientific concept of “burden” is the measure of years lost of life, due to early death or severe disability brought on by a certain illness, in this case depression.
The five day summit, hopes to provide the opportunity to address what organisers are calling a crisis in global mental healthcare and they have already reported that most developing countries spend less than 2% of their national budgets on this sector. This will magnify the problem in the developing world because they lack the resources and money to allocate to mental health.
WHO figures reveal that currently, over 450 million people are directly affected by mental disorders or disabilities, most of whom live in developing countries.
Facts and Figures
-About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14
-Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents are estimated to have mental disorders or problems
-Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people
-About 800,000 people commit suicide every year, 86% of them in low- and middle-income countries
-More than half of the people who kill themselves are aged between 15 and 44
-The highest suicide rates are found among men in eastern European countries
Professor of epidemiological psychiatry at King’s College London, Martin Prince, has attempted to calculate the cost that this could have on the economy.
“These costs combined amount in the UK, it’s estimated, to about £12bn ($19bn) per year or around 1% of the gross national product, so these are absolutely enormous sums.”
With the expectation that mental illness will continue to increase in the coming years, Dr Saxena says societal attitudes towards mental illness need to change.
“Depression is as much of a disease as any other physical disease that people suffer from and they have a right to get correct advice and treatment with in the same health care settings which look after other health conditions.”