Mental Health in an Unequal World

World Mental Health Day is on October 10th, the theme is ‘mental health in an unequal world‘.

It was chosen to highlight the fact that access to mental health services remains unequal, with between 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high-income countries is not much better.  

Many people with a mental illness do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to and deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination. The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ grows ever wider and there is continuing unmet need in the care of people with a mental health problem.

Research evidence shows that there is a deficiency in the quality of care provided to people with mental health problems. It can take up to 15 years before medical, social, and psychological treatments for mental illness that have been shown to work in good quality research studies are delivered to the patients that need them in everyday practice.

The stigma and discrimination experienced by people who experience mental ill-health not only affects that person’s physical and mental health, stigma also affects their educational opportunities, current and future earning and job prospects, and also affects their families and loved ones.  

This inequality needs to be addressed because it should not be allowed to continue. We all have a role to play to address these disparities and ensure that people with lived experiences of mental health are fully integrated into all aspects of life. 

People who experience physical illness also often experience psychological distress and mental health difficulties. An example is visual impairment. Over 2.2 billion people have visual impairment worldwide, and the majority also experience anxiety and/ or depression and this is worsened for visually impaired people who experience adverse social and economic circumstances.

The COVID 19 pandemic has further highlighted the effects of inequality on health outcomes and no nation, however rich, has been fully prepared for this.  The pandemic has and will continue to affect people, of all ages, in many ways: through infection and illness, sometimes resulting in death bringing bereavement to surviving family members; through the economic impact, with job losses and continued job insecurity; and with the physical distancing that can lead to social isolation.

The 2021 World Mental Health Day campaign ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ focuses on the issues that perpetuate mental health inequality locally and globally.

Read more about this year’s theme www.wfmh.global

Here are some resources to read from Your Employee Wellbeing about Merntal Health
Destressing at the end of the week
The impact of poor mental health at work
Why I’m happy mental health is more of a talking point


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