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Ending the Mental Health Stigma

Every dollar invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety – the two most common mental health disorders – can generate a return of $4 in terms of improved wellbeing and increased ability to work. But the most important step toward improving mental health will be to make access to care routine and unremarkable.

OAKLAND – The world faces an epidemic of mental health problems that cuts across borders, economies, and cultures and carries a stigma that leaves people suffering in silence. Tackling the problem requires political, business, and civil society leaders to make mental health and wellness a global priority, starting with the Globalization 4.0 discussions at this month’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Davos is clearly an appropriate forum in which to raise the issue. According to a study by the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion every year in lost productivity. Yet the same study also suggested that every dollar invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety – the two most common mental health conditions – can generate a return of $4 in terms of improved wellbeing and increased ability to work.

The WHO study is a welcome intervention. For too long, we have detached the mind from the body and regarded mental conditions as something separate from our overall health. As a result, millions of people needing mental health support have been ignored, with a dramatic impact on economic resources, productivity, and output.

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