With global mental health worsening, WHO calls for more investment in the sector

Due to the increase in mental health problems worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) asked, in a document published this Thursday (17/6), that all nations make more investments in the sector, emphasizing that “the suffering is enormous”.

In 2020 alone, rates of depression and anxiety rose 25%, at a time when scarce health resources were focused on fighting the coronavirus.

If before Covid-19, almost 1 billion people lived with a mental disorder, according to a report by the UN agency on the situation of global mental health, the trend is that this number has suffered a drastic increase in recent years.

Despite the growth of interest in the subject, there was no improvement in the countries’ investments in the area. According to the WHO report, only 2% of national health budgets and less than 1% of all international aid are dedicated to mental health.

“All these numbers are very, very low,” WHO Mental Health Unit consultant Mark Van Ommeren told a news conference.

Inequality and stigma

The document also points out that one in eight people in the world lives with a mental illness. The World Report on Mental Health indicates that this reality is exacerbated in situations of inequality in access to care. In high-income countries, more than 70% of people with psychoses receive treatment, compared to 12% in low-income countries.

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The report also calls for an end to stigmatization associated with mental health. According to the document, one in 20 suicide attempts leads to death, which is the cause of one in 100 deaths annually worldwide.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement that everyone, at some point in their lives, will have contact with someone who suffers from mental illness.

“Investing in mental health is investing in a better life and future for everyone”, he concludes.

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