The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 1 billion people were living with a mental disorder before the COVID-19 pandemic, and urgent reform is needed. 

The WHO has released its largest review of world mental health since the turn of the century. 

The detailed work provides a blueprint for governments, academics, health professionals, civil society and others with an ambition to support the world in transforming mental health.

In 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14 per cent of the world’s adolescents - were living with a mental disorder. 

Suicide accounted for more than 1 in 100 deaths and 58 per cent of suicides occurred before age 50. 

Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability, causing one in six years lived with disability. People with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, mostly due to preventable physical diseases. 

Social and economic inequalities, public health emergencies, war, and the climate crisis are among the global, structural threats to mental health. Depression and anxiety went up by more than 25 per cent in the first year of the pandemic alone.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, just a small fraction of people in need had access to effective, affordable and quality mental health care. 

For example, 71 per cent of those with psychosis worldwide do not receive mental health services, while 70 per cent of people with psychosis are reported to be treated in high-income countries, only 12 per cent of people with psychosis receive mental health care in low-income countries. 

For depression, the gaps in service coverage are wide across all countries: even in high-income countries, only one third of people with depression receive formal mental health care and minimally-adequate treatment for depression is estimated to range from 23 per cent in high-income countries to 3 per cent in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

The WHO says its comprehensive report highlights why and where change is most needed and how it can best be achieved. 

It is calling on stakeholders to work together to deepen the value and commitment given to mental health, reshape the environments that influence mental health and strengthen the systems that care for people’s mental health.