Mental Illness Facts

  1. Mental illness is a highly prevalent, life-threatening disease that affects millions of people all around the world.
  • Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease.¹
  • By 2020, behavioral health disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide. ²
  • One in four people – about 450 million people worldwide – suffer from mental disorders in both developed and developing countries,¹ including:
    • 60 million from bi-polar disorder; and
    • 21 million from schizophrenia

Sources: ¹ World Health Organization   ² SAMHSA, 2010

 

  1. Mental illness strikes the young and often goes undiagnosed and untreated for many years.
    • 50% of those who will ever be diagnosed with a mental disorder show signs of the disease by age 14, 75% by age 25.¹
    • Few get help: 76-85% of serious cases went untreated in low and middle income countries, 35-50% of cases in high income countries.¹
    • There are pervasive delays in getting treatment: the median across disorders is about 10 years, contributing to greater severity, co-occurrence of mental illnesses, and lower success rates as people age.¹

Source: ¹ Prevalence, Severity, and Unmet Need for Treatment of Mental Disorders, World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys, June 2004, Journal of the American Medical Association

 

  1. Mental illness threatens lives everywhere; suicide claims a life every 90 seconds.
    • Every day, nearly 2,200 people in the world − some 800,000 each year − commit suicide.¹
    • In 90% of suicides, mental illness is the attributing cause.²
    • Globally, more than twice as many people die from suicide as die from homicide each year.¹
    • Suicide is the second-largest source of mortality for people aged 15-29, topped only by traffic accidents.

Sources:  ¹ World Health Organization and Darkness Invisible: The Hidden Global Costs of Mental Illness, by Thomas R. Insel, Pamela Y. Collins and Steven E. Hyman, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2015 Issue   ² American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

 

  1. Mental illness has a significant impact on human productivity.
    • Mental illnesses and behavioral disorders account for 26% of the time lost to disability – significantly more than any other kind of disease. ¹

Sources: ¹ World Health Organization  ² Darkness Invisible: The Hidden Global Costs of Mental Illness, by Thomas R. Insel, Pamela Y. Collins and Steven E. Hyman, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2015 Issue

 

  1. Mental illness has a staggering impact on the global economy: about $2.5 trillion/year today.
    • By 2030, that amount will increase to around $6 trillion a year – more than heart disease and more than cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases combined. ¹
    • Mental disorders often lead to other health and societal problems – HIV, heart and pulmonary diseases, diabetes and increased risk of homelessness, poverty, incarceration or institutionalization – further adding to the economic burden.

Source: ¹ Source: Darkness Invisible: The Hidden Global Costs of Mental Illness, by Thomas R. Insel, Pamela Y. Collins and Steven E. Hyman, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2015 Issue

 

  1. There are inadequate resources available for combating mental illness, despite its huge impact on human productivity and life.
    • At the government level, mental illness accounts for over 20% of all health care costs globally, but the median amount that countries spend on mental health equals less than 3% of the median they spend for all health care.1,2 Many countries have no dedicated  mental health care budget at all.¹
    • At the philanthropic level, the stigma associated with mental illness creates a vicious cycle of alienation and discrimination, resulting in social/political isolation and inadequate treatment approaches and resources within the community.
    • Despite a higher death rate, mental illnesses receive a fraction of the charitable donations made to combat cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Source:  ¹ World Health Organization

 

  1. There is hope for people living with mental illness.
    • Mental disorders can now be diagnosed as reliably and accurately as the most common physical disorders; some can be prevented, all can be successfully managed and treated.
    • People can regain their mental health, but not with medication alone. With the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.
    • Thousands of good examples exist around the world of people with mental illness not only becoming integrated into their communities, but also playing a socially productive and economically important role.¹

Source: ¹ World Health Organization