Is mental health a global issue?

Being a foundation that aims to increase the awareness in mental health, we are always keen to explore how mental health is perceived in other parts of the world.

A new 2018 global mental health report by the Lancet Commission has stated that “all countries can be thought of as developing countries in the context of mental health”.

The report was written by 28 authors who span five different continents.

What was the outcome?

The main outcome of this report was that lower-income communities are receiving less help than others. This is proven by a statistic from the report that only one in every 27 people receiving treatment in developing countries, are receiving adequate treatment for their mental health.

However, the report also showed that in countries doing financially better, the level of mental health didn’t improve substantially.

The level of financial support from assistance groups and governments in both developed and developing countries are “pitifully small” for mental health care and research. When this was compared to other diseases in 2013, the funding allocated to mental health was significantly lower.

At the Seattle launch of the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health report this month, Ana Mari Cauce, the University of Washington President said “Mental health is health. We still are at a point around the world but including this country where somehow that’s seen as lighter or more trivial or not as important. No-one would say “just pick up our boot straps” if you have cancer, but somehow when we’re talking about mental health issues, they’re viewed through a different lens.”

Why is there a lack of funding?

One reason there is a lack of funding is cultural differences. The report concludes that in countries such as China and Japan, where one third of the population resides, over 80% of people suffering with mental health issues do not seek treatment and even if they did, the level of treatment is very low. Some cultures are not as understanding about mental health compared to others.

Another huge element is the stigma surrounding mental health. Stigma and a lack of understanding is a massive problem in both developed and developing countries.

How can we help?

With the report demonstrating that people with mental health issues are suffering due to a lack of resources across the globe, the best thing we can do is to keep campaigning and raising awareness for mental health.

#ChatwithCharlie is already proving a hit at the University of Essex and we will soon be rolling this out to other universities in the UK.

We have a dream in mind that eventually the whole globe can benefit from our work and projects. And the tide might be turning as mental health was one of the main focuses in the latest budget, with £2 Billion funding from the government.

Our founder, Harry Watkins, recently attended a University of Essex THINK debate. Head over to their Twitter page @THINKUoE for soundbites.