On a global scale, we have a serious problem with how we handle mental health. If an adult experiences a bout with depression, we write it off as a quarter or midlife crisis. If children fail to focus or feel lost amongst their peers, we assume they are antisocial or lazy. This response is engrained in many cultures and doesn’t mean that the majority of the population is ignorant or insensitive. Rather, we just don’t know how to handle it. Let’s face it, it’s easier to place blame than to accept that it’s something we have to actively fix. When it comes to mental health, it takes that effort though to solve the bigger systemic problems – and it’s a global problem.
All over the world, mental health issues go unnoticed or unresolved. Even our youngest citizens continue to suffer in silence without the help they need. As explained on NPR, in the United States, “Most children — nearly 80 percent — who need mental health services won’t get them. Whether treated or not, the children do go to school. And the problems they face can tie into major problems found in schools: chronic absence, low achievement, disruptive behavior and dropping out.”
Mental Health by the Numbers
You see, I like numbers. I have a background in finance, and when I see reports and statistics, I can’t understand why we don’t put more of an emphasis on resolving this massive problem.
- It’s an epidemic. “Depression is a common mental disorder and one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Globally, an estimated 300 million people are affected by depression. More women are affected than men.” – The World Health Organization
- It’s presumed to be inaccurately reported. “While Nigerians appeared to have the lowest prevalence of mental illness — 4.7 percent — the researchers think the actual number is likely much higher since residents of the violence-prone West African nation may be hesitant to confide in strangers.”
- It leads to bigger problems later on. “Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.”
- It’s rapidly evolving. “By 2030, depression will be the second highest cause of disease burden in middle-income countries and the third highest in low-income countries.”
I try to focus on positivity. I’m not a fan of scare-tactics. I don’t think they make a lasting impact. That being said, when I see these numbers, I am scared. I am scared for our youth and our adults. I am scared for our future as a nation. Without addressing the mental health problem, we only allow it to evolve further and further within our societies. It’s time to acknowledge it and take action.