State of Affairs

Mental illness is a growing public health concern. A recent index of 301 diseases found mental illness to be one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide (1). In 2010, mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) were reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide in 20 to 29-year-olds (2). Among people under 65, mental illness accounts for nearly half of all instances of ill health (3). According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, the most predominant mental health barriers worldwide were depression and anxiety (4).

Mental illness has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals. Individuals with mental illnesses are at higher risk of experiencing significant physical health problems; they are more likely to develop preventable conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, bowel cancer and breast cancer, and do so at a younger age. This contributes to a situation whereby people with serious mental illnesses die 20 years younger (on average) than the general population (5). Mental illness is also associated with increased levels of worklessness, reduced productivity in the workplace, and increased rates of sickness absence (6).

References available on request.

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