Space & Innovation

Mental Illness Recognized as Major Global Issue

The World Health Organization says it's costing the world $1 trillion per year.

<p>Photo: Reuters // Beawiharta<span></span></p>

Mental health is now a top priority for the World Health Organization, a group well known for battling infectious, physical diseases.

The WHO made the announcement at a conference this week in Washington D.C., where government officials, medical professionals and representatives from aid groups are discussing the issue. Mental well-being will now be fully incorporated into the group's broader goal of promoting health around the world.

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In an interview with NPR, the WHO's Dr. Shekhar Saxena said that depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are costing the world more than $1 trillion per year.

That's in line with a study that was recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry. In that same interview, Saxena pointed out that many countries have severely underfunded mental health programs, alluding to places that have a population of 19 million, but only three psychiatrists.

Top photo: A man suffering from mental illness sits chained on a bed in his room inside his family home in Curug Sulanjana village in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia March 23, 2016. In a program launched this year, Indonesia sends teams of workers into often-remote hamlets to help free patients kept in chains and ensure they get the medical treatment they need. (Reuters / Beawiharta)