Report predicts burden of mental illness will cost $US16 trillion by 2030

A report in the Lancet Commission points to failures in each country not doing enough to respond to global rise mental health disorders.

Ahead of this week’s first global mental health commission in London, the “Lancet Commission” report has concluded current conditions in the way we deal with and prevent mental illness will cause lasting helm to the economy as well as communities at large around the world.

Contributing to the report are 28 global experts in the fields of psychiatry, public health, neuroscience, patients and advocacy groups. They conclude that ‘no country is investing enough’ factoring in the dramatic rise of mental illness in the past 25 years.

With mental illness on the rise each month in every country the report estimates this will have cost the global economy up to $US16 trillion (€14 trillion; $A23 trillion) in the 20 year period between 2010 and 2030 without adequate prevention or response.

The report factors in direct costs of health care, medicines and therapy, however, co-lead author Professor Vikram Patel notes most of the costs are indirect from the loss of productivity, education, spending on social welfare and law and order.

Speaking to reporters in the United States, Patel, a professor at Harvard Medical School states the situation is “extremely bleak.”  He attributes the “dramatic” rise in mental illness to ageing societies and that “no country has invested enough” in the past 25 years.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are around 300 million people worldwide who suffer depression, 50 million with dementia, schizophrenia affecting 23 million and bipolar disorder affecting 60 million.

The report also draws issue with the gross human rights violations in many countries where people with mental disorders such as anxiety and schizophrenia are tortured or imprisoned. It concludes that a human-rights-based approach is needed, where people with mental health conditions are allowed access to employment and education.

Other recommendations include community-based care for mental health patients where talk-therapies can be more readily available through community health workers and teachers, for example.

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