Good mental health is an important part of life; just like good physical health. We are constantly given advice on how to take care of our bodies, but for too long it has been in the dark what we should do for our mental health and who we should turn to and how we should understand. More awareness and willingness to talk about mental health has ushered in a new era of understanding and acceptance and led to the loosening of certain types of public stigma. But we still have many challenges ahead of us.
The societal consequences of poor mental health are terrifying: 25% of the population suffer from depression or anxiety and psychiatric disorders account for 19.5% of the burden of disease for countries while the cost of effective syndromes and anxiety amounts to €170 billion per year 1. The consequences on a personal level are devastating: lives are destroyed, families torn apart and opportunities wiped out. Up to 50% of all long-term sick leave is due to depression and anxiety 1 and no country is spared from suicide. The world health organization launched a suicide prevention campaign following reports that 128,000 people in take their own lives each year.
Issues of mental health are complex and strongly influenced by aspects such as family, employment, poverty, discrimination and access to health care. Mental health, the largest independent network organization representing patients, professionals and service providers across, is campaigning for mental health to be on an equal footing with physical health in terms of funding and service provision: we champion good mental health and well-being and rights for people living with mental illness. We are raising awareness to end the stigma and discrimination of mental illness.
We are all likely to experience some form of mental illness in our lives, but for many it is anything but a passing phase due to the accompanying profound and lasting effect on happiness, the ability to form and maintain relationships, and having a productive life. The effects begin at an early age and continue throughout life. Research shows that children and teenagers with poor mental health are likely to do worse at school and have poorer opportunities for work. Adults become less productive at work and are more likely to have relationship problems, while older people are more likely to become isolated when they experience mental illness.
Growing evidence and awareness of the burden of mental health problems has led to improvements, but the personal and financial consequences remain a shame for society and national healthcare systems. Mental and physical go hand in hand in our lives and one can have either a detrimental or positive impact on the other. The world health organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.