By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – There is growing recognition within the international community that mental health is one of the most neglected yet essential development issues in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
According to the United Nations report, persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities represent a significant proportion of the world’s population.
The report says millions of people worldwide have mental health conditions and an estimated one in four people globally will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
The report adds that almost one million people die due to suicide every year, and it is the third leading cause of death among young people, adding that depression is the leading cause of years lost due to disability worldwide.
It linked mental health problems, including alcohol abuse, among the ten leading causes of disability in both developed and developing countries.
In particular, the report ranked depression third in the global burden of disease, and is projected to rank first in 2030.
According to the UN publication, persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities often face stigma and discrimination, as well as experience high levels of physical and sexual abuse, which can occur in a range of settings, including prisons, hospitals and homes.
The economic cost of mental health problems is vast; it therefore called for reasonable investment in mental health to enhance better mental health for people.
Poor mental health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty, compromised education, gender inequality, ill-health, violence and other global challenges, the UN noted.
It impedes the individual’s capacity to work productively, realize their potential and make a contribution to their community.
Including mental health as an integral part of development is however, relatively new to the United Nations and its development partners.