Mental Health Awareness Week (Day 2)

Day 2 – Problem scale

Mental health is an immense problem, that affects a major part of the population. Also, many countries are not equipped to offer mental health services and support to their citizens.

Mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease in the WHO European Region and mental health problems affect one in four people at some time in life (Figure 1). Six out of the 20 countries with the highest suicide rates in the world are in the European Region with Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan in 5th, 10th and 11th place respectively (Figure 2).

In many Western countries, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability, responsible for 30-40% of chronic sick leave and costing some 3% of GDP.

European Union (EU) countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland: 27% of the adult population has experienced at least one of a series of mental disorders in the past year. An estimated 83 million people are affected.

Neuropsychiatric disorders are the third leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in Europe and account for 15.2%, following cardiovascular diseases accounting for 26.6% and malignant neoplasms (cancers) accounting for 15.4% (Figure 3).

The combined rate of psychiatric beds per 100 000 population in community psychiatric inpatient units, units in district general hospitals and mental hospitals ranges from 185 in Malta to 8 in Italy, with a median rate of 72 (Figure 4).

Rates of admissions to inpatient units per 100 000 population vary from 1301 in Romania and 1240 in Germany to 87 in Albania. The median rate of admissions is 568 per 100 000 population (Figure 5).

The number of psychiatrists per 100 000 population ranges vary widely: from 30 per 100 000 in Switzerland and 26 in Finland to 3 in Albania and 1 in Turkey. The median rate of psychiatrists per 100 000 in the 41 countries that provided information is 9 (Figure 6).

As you can see, the difference between countries in the WHO European Region is enormous. Some countries are better equipped to deal with the rising challenges of our mental well-being, and some are grossly unprepared. As medical professionals and future policy makers we should strive to reduce these differences between countries and provide mental health care for all.

Leave a Comment