WHO warns about mental health in the world: “the suffering is enormous”

Even before Covid-19, nearly a billion people were living with a mental disorder, the UN agency pointed out in its largest global mental health study in two decades.

During the first year of the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety rose by a quarter.

But the investment has not increased. Only 2% of national health budgets and less than 1% of all international health aid is spent on mental health, according to the WHO report.

“All of these numbers are very, very low,” Mark Van Ommeren, of the WHO’s mental health unit, told a news conference.

This report underlines how “the suffering is enormous” across the world, he added.

According to the report, around one in eight people worldwide live with a mental disorder.

It’s worse for those living in conflict zones, where it’s estimated that one in five people suffer from a mental health problem.

Young people, women and people already suffering from mental health problems have been hit harder by Covid and the resulting restrictions, Mr Van Ommeren said.

The “World Mental Health Report” also highlighted wide gaps between countries in access to mental health care: while more than 70% of people with psychoses receive treatment in high-income countries, that rate drops to 12% in low-income countries, he said.

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