It has been estimated that on an international, comprehensive scale, the level of undiagnosed and unaddressed mental health issues is continuously increasing. An estimated 120 million people globally suffer from depression, 50 million from epilepsy, 37 million from Alzheimer’s and 24 million from schizophrenia. It has also been identified that almost 1 million people all over the world commit suicide annually, and at least 20 million people make one unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide. In the United States, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death which means that one American in every 17 minutes takes his/her own life.
As per a World Bank study, one of the major causes of the deterioration in the quality of life is an increase in mental health problems. In spite of all that, the distribution of budget for the treatment of mental health problems is unreasonably low in relation to other diseases, regardless of the serious health consequences they bear.
Irrespective of all these facts, the absence of effective ways and proper mechanisms to deal with the mental health issues remains prevalent and has been found in almost all of the countries studied by World Health Organization (WHO). Nearly twenty-five percent of the 191 countries surveyed by WHO do not even have a national policy or law to deal with mental health issues. The WHO identifies that the condition is worst among the lower segments of the population as they cannot easily afford the required treatment that results in worsening their mental condition and mental disorders.
The study further suggests that though the initial treatments for the less severe forms of mental disorders are available in some countries, yet almost two-thirds of the victims never tried to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. The reason is not only the scarce financial resources but also an effort to avoid the stigma attached with such problems. According to the WHO, this reason is contributing to the increase in mental health issues.
Mental health disorders are considered one of the prime causes of disability in the world. Now depressive disorders are the fourth prominent cause of the global disease burden, and it is also estimated that they will be second by the year 2020, leaving behind only cardiac ailments.
Despite this, on an international scale, approximately 70% of the sufferers have access to fewer than one psychiatrist per 100,000 population, 55% to fewer than one neurologist per one million population, and 44% to fewer than one psychiatric nurse per 100,000 individuals. These are overall statistics; they are not related to any specific region or country. More specifically, mental health services and treatments are available to one-tenth to one-hundredth of what is required.
There is a pressing need to devise proper laws and policies to deal with mental health issues at the global level. International organizations and the governments must now define proper strategies and rules to deal with mental health problems of their population in order to have a healthy nation.