10th of October is marked as World Mental Health Day. On this occasion the Lancet Commission published a report that states that mental health disorders could cost the world economy US$16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 if it is not tackled immediately.
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This new report was published a day before World Mental Health day and was the collaborative work of 28 psychiatrists, public health experts and neuroscientists from around the world. The team also comprised of advocacy groups and representatives of mental health patients. It was released in time for the first global ministerial mental health summit that is being held in London this week.
The report states that the problem may be more far reaching than commonly believed and could affect almost all communities and populations and economies. Report’s author Vikram Patel of Harvard Medical School, explained the deep impact of mental health disorders on the economies and health costs calling the situation “extremely bleak”.
The report assesses the direct as well as the indirect costs of mental health problems. It states that the direct costs include those of healthcare, therapies and medicines while indirect costs are loss of productivity as well as the losses in social welfare and maintaining law and order. According to Patel not enough is being done and not enough is invested to handle this magnitude of the problem. He explained that there has been a dramatic rise in mental health problems worldwide over the last 25 years. This is mainly due to a large population of aging individuals he said. Patel called mental health problems as the most neglected health condition worldwide.
According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) depression affects 300 million people worldwide with 23 million affected by schizophrenia, 60 million people living with bipolar disorder and 50 million diagnosed with dementia. The numbers show that at least one in four individuals would suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
The report also talked about the human rights violations that mentally ill individuals face worldwide. According to Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, the treatment of mentally ill individuals in many regions is “shameful and shocking”. Dr. Horton had commissioned this latest report. The report urges policy makers to look into the fundamental human rights of these individuals including providing them with equal opportunities in education, employment etc. Treatment and counselling therapies could also be shifted from entirely being dependent on health care professionals to community health care workers, teachers, religious leaders, friends and family to ensure a more community-based care approach says the report.