The world needs more mental health support right now

Published on
Dec 22, 2021
Written by
Marc Knowles
Read time
4 min

How did we get here?

  • Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of health globally. 
  • Countries spend less than 2% of their health budgets on mental health.
  • In the next ten years, depression will put more burden on nations and enterprises than any other disease.

I recently overheard in a local coffee shop (as you do): 

“I woke up today and you know i’m not sure if I might have the new covid, or I’m just depressed again.” I laughed. I related, then I reflected. 

It was the kind of dark humour that has underlying truth. The kind of statement made on a company zoom call on your last week of work to fill the meeting time. 

It’s relatable because we have all felt that same feeling over the last two years. It’s a Thursday morning and you’re contemplating the will to live before 9:30 am while you’re in the shower thinking about the last time you didn’t have to think about anything. Why am I doing this job? Why is life so expensive? How can I connect more with people around me? 

Nothing like a little bit of existential crisis to get you energised for that next meeting. 

We’re mentally burning ourselves out by overloading our systems with information, entertainment and the inability to distinguish parts of our lives anymore. The boundaries have blurred. If you have no control over your push notifications – you have no control over your mental state. And you’re not alone. 

Over 75% of professionals right now are experiencing burnout due to the challenges presented with the pandemic and working remotely. If you are experiencing increased irritability, frustration, anger, restlessness, chronic fatigue, physical stress or depression and anxiety, it is possible that you’re feeling symptoms of burnout.

Power is shifting away from institutions and towards individuals. If we’re going to have more control over our own lives, working from anywhere, owning the internet, governing the institutions that support us -- then we need to figure out how to handle that responsibility on a personal level. 

Training your mental state is just as important as your physical. It’s a skill we learn, not gifted with. 

How can we become more mindful and calm in a modern world of relentless pace?

We need more mental health support that is not just diagnostic, but preventive. Mental health support needs to become more of a long-term sustainable support system for individuals. 

Having a therapist is a sounding board and a superpower to help you navigate the complexities of modern-day life. It’s not a weakness to seek help. 

Typically therapy has been a service for the top 1% of individuals. The inflated cost of sessions is a result of a shortage of providers and a lack of capital allocation from healthcare institutions. 

But the demand for mental health services is outstripping supply. With the world facing an extreme shortage of clinicians, many of whom are grappling with their own burnout, digital platforms like Ollie Health will take centre stage, even beyond the current apps linking patients and therapists.  

Mental health in numbers

The numbers are staggering. Today, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder and in low-income countries, more than 75% of people with the disorder do not receive treatment. Every year, close to 3 million people die due to substance abuse.  Every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide. About 50% of mental health disorders start by the age of 14.

It is estimated that over 160 million people need humanitarian assistance because of conflicts, natural disasters, and other emergencies. The rates of mental disorders can double during such crises. 1 in 5 people affected by conflict is estimated to have a mental health condition.

Final thoughts 

2022 is the year that is going to force global companies to see the true value of their community of talent. Healthcare benefits will be bundled to accommodate employees that work in different countries. 

Remote mental and physical care will accelerate healthcare benefits adoption and distribute access to healthcare practitioners. 

The data points out the consequences the world will face if mental health takes the back seat. We are left with a simple conclusion: simply put, there is no health without mental health!

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