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The Return on the Individual: A Visionary New Approach to Mental Wellbeing in 2021

Studies show that 265 million people suffer from depression and 284 million suffer from anxiety worldwide.

A recent WHO report revealed that 7.5% of the entire population of India suffers from mental health issues and it is being predicted that by end of 2020, nearly 20% of the percent of the population will suffer from some form of mental illness. To emphasize the grave concern of surging mental issues and greater need for investment in mental health, a report “The Return on the Individual: A Visionary New Approach to Mental Wellbeing in 2021” was conceived at a global meeting of civil society campaigners in 2019, and further worked upon through the year in partnership with Chatham House, HSBC, and United for Global Mental Health, inside the framework of the Speak Your Mind (SYM) campaign.

The report takes stories of individuals like Timiebi, Graeme, Josephine, Sodkin, and Ceceilia to show how investment in mental health can have various effects that not only confine to financial gains but reach out across communities, societies, families, economies, and businesses.

Why Investment in Mental Health should be a Priority

Despite the country facing a severe crunch of a shortage of mental health specialists and productivity loss due to mental issues, there was no increased fund allocation for the National Mental Health Programme in the latest Budget. In fact, the budget allocated to mental health is only 0.05% of the entire budget allocated to health annually.

At present, we are in the midst of a global mental health crisis. Studies show that 265 million people suffer from depression and 284 million suffer from anxiety worldwide. Also, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people all over the world. The world loses $2.5 trillion every year owing to poor attention to mental health. However, financial figures aren’t the only thing to be worried of as mental health has ripple effects that can’t be easily quantified.

A study on the global return on investment in 36 countries between 2016 and 2030 published in the Lancet showed that an average return on investment for common mental conditions is 4:1 roughly. This means that for one dollar invested, there is a benefit of four dollars to society. Despite the positives, why is there so little investment in mental health services from the government?

A Visionary Approach

The mental health of a person varies throughout his/her life based on the experiences and circumstances. Poor mental health affects all of us at some point in time. However, the impact of poor mental health is felt not just by the person but on a wider scale across societies, businesses, and economies.

The ‘The Return on the Individual’ approach puts the individual at the forefront to highlight the benefits that may come from good mental health practices around the world. Apart from financial returns, improvement in well-being and mental health is a return in itself for the individual. This goes much beyond the returns which can be counted for financial gains.

Through the promotion of good mental health, we can promote the ability of every person to fully participate in society, be it in their workplaces, social networks, communities, schools, or families.

This revolutionary approach to mental health investment would only be possible when the mental health initiatives centre on the individual rather than looking for financial gains.

Conclusion

Mental health is a crucial aspect of the overall well-being of an individual. By adopting a similar approach as mentioned in the “The Return on the Individual” report, it is possible to bring about a change in the way mental health care is perceived in India. There’s an urgent need to change our attitude towards mental health before it gets too late.


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