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The Key Messages of World Mental Health Day

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Last Sunday, October 10, was World Mental Health Day as proclaimed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the theme for the day was (and is) Mental health care for all: Let’s make it a reality. The key messages of the World Mental Health Day campaign are (italicized print quoted verbatim):

The health argument
  • Close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected.
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experience a mental disorder. Half of all such disorders start by age 14 years but most are undetected and untreated.
  • People with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia tend to die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.  
  • One in every 100 deaths is by suicide. It is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on people’s mental health.
 The care gap
  • Despite the universal nature and the magnitude of mental ill-health, the gap between demand for mental health services and supply remains substantial.
  • Relatively few people around the world have access to quality mental health services.
  • The serious gaps that still exist in mental health care are a result of chronic under-investment over many decades in mental health promotion, prevention and care.
  • Stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses of people with mental health conditions remain widespread.  
The economic cost
  • The lost productivity resulting from depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental disorders, costs the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year.
The investment deficit
  • On average, countries spend just 2% of their national health budgets on mental health. This has changed little in recent years.
  • Despite an increase of development assistance for mental health in recent years, it has never exceeded 1% of development assistance for health.
 The good news
  • Some of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, can be treated with talking therapies, medication, or a combination of these.
  • For every US$ 1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety, there is a return of US$ 5.
  • For every US$ 1 invested in evidence-based treatment for drug dependence, there is a return of up to US$ 7 in reduced crime and criminal justice costs.
  • Generalist health workers can be trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
  • Regular health checks of people with severe mental disorders can prevent premature death.
  • The quality of life of people living with conditions such as autism and dementia can be greatly improved when their caregivers receive appropriate training.
  • The rights of people living with mental health conditions can be protected and promoted through mental health legislation, policy, development of affordable, quality community-based mental health services and the involvement of people with lived experience.
We are excited that several of these good news points are reflected in work in Mississippi and want to highlight just a few. The Child Access to Mental Health and Psychiatry (CHAMP) program offers real-time child mental health telephone consultations by child psychiatrists, child psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to any pediatric primary care provider in Mississippi. There are three Certified Community Behavioral Health Center pilot projects in Mississippi.  These centers promote integrated care and ensure that people with severe mental illness receive screenings and other interventions that support their physical health as well. The centers use evidence-based practices and funding formulas that tie outcomes to payment. Although it is challenging for Mississippi to face a long term lawsuit about its mental health system, the suit has highlighted the importance of responsive community-based approaches and people receiving services being fully included in services, planning and policy, and we hope the remedy provides a path forward for those things to happen.
Last Friday Families as Allies presented this webinar:

The webinar discusses how to use the resources from Mental Illness Awareness Week to help our children, as well as how we can use the principles and approaches of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan to make Mississippi’s system of care for children’s mental health stronger and more responsive. If you weren’t able to attend on Friday, we hope that you’ll take a look.

Here are some helpful tip sheets about depression and suicide prevention that are posted on the WHO website.

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