Saturday, June 22, 2024

Mental Health Crisis Fueled by Outdated Perceptions and Practices, New Economist Impact Study Reveals

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Mental health care faces significant barriers to accessing quality services, including stigma, a shortage of mental health professionals, and inconsistent availability and quality of services, according to a new international analysis conducted across eight G20 countries. The study, launched during the World Health Assembly, underscores the urgent need for action and provides recommendations to address these challenges.

The Economist Impact study, titled “Rethinking mental health care: harnessing new approaches,” was commissioned by Boehringer Ingelheim to identify the barriers and potential solutions for meeting the growing demand for mental health services globally. Researchers conducted an extensive analysis involving over 200 mental health professionals, policymakers, and patient representatives through surveys, interviews, a global steering committee, and focus groups. The study focused on China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US.

  1. Stigma Across Stakeholders: Despite progress in treating anxiety and depression, serious mental health conditions like schizophrenia continue to be stigmatized. This stigma persists among the general public, policymakers, and healthcare professionals, hindering effective support for affected individuals.
  2. Supply of Services Not Meeting Demand: The demand for mental health services outstrips the supply of professionals. There is a critical shortage of mental health practitioners, with half the world’s population living in areas where one psychiatrist serves 200,000 or more people. Increased recruitment and retention efforts are essential to address this gap.
  3. Lack of Consistent Quality Care: There is significant geographic variation in the availability and quality of mental health services. Access to innovative approaches is limited by inadequate insurance coverage and logistical challenges, creating barriers for both patients and healthcare providers.

The study provides several recommendations to improve mental health care access and quality:

  1. Combatting Stigma: Policymakers and mental health organizations should launch educational campaigns to normalize mental health treatment-seeking, especially for serious conditions. These initiatives can help reduce stigma and encourage more people to seek help.
  2. Enhancing the Mental Health Workforce: Universities, teaching hospitals, and professional societies need to offer comprehensive training for mental health professionals. Policymakers should focus on making the profession more attractive and improving retention through workforce audits and supportive policies.
  3. Improving Quality of Care: Clinical guideline groups and professional societies should promote adherence to evidence-based guidelines to reduce variability in care quality. This will ensure that patients receive consistent and high-quality treatment across different regions.

mental health

Mental Health Economic Impact: $1 Trillion Annual Cost Expected to Rise to $6 Trillion by 2030

Mental health conditions significantly impact the global economy, costing an estimated $1 trillion annually due to lost productivity. This figure is expected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030. Despite the substantial individual, social, and economic costs, policy action remains insufficient. Only 75% of WHO Member States have standalone mental health plans, and less than half have updated these plans since 2017.

Elly Vaughan, Senior Manager of Health Policy at Economist Impact, emphasized the broad impact of mental health conditions: “Mental health issues affect all areas of an individual’s life, impacting productivity, GDP, and economic growth. By addressing stigma, supply, and quality of mental health provision, leaders can combat this crisis with real solutions.”

Carinne Brouillon, Head of Human Pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim, highlighted the need for improved access: “The analysis shows that many people, especially those with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, still lack access to quality care. Governments and professional bodies must invest in improving services to deliver better outcomes on personal, economic, and societal levels.”

The Economist Impact study underscores the urgent need for global action to improve mental health care. By addressing stigma, enhancing the mental health workforce, and ensuring consistent quality of care, stakeholders can make significant strides in meeting the unmet needs of individuals with mental health conditions. This effort will not only improve individual lives but also positively impact global productivity and economic growth.

Resource: Boehringer İngelheim, May 28, 2024

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