As the G20 assembles to confront global challenges, the Reform for Resilience Commission urges participants to improve support for a vital contributor to societal resilience and economic growth: mental health and well-being.
Across the globe, nearly one billion people are struggling with some form of mental health disorder—including one in seven teenagers. The pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis, as widespread health worries and economic uncertainty fueled sharp increases in depression and anxiety.
Tragically, mental health treatment is out of reach for most of the global population. To cite just one example, only 3% of individuals with depression can access care in low and lower-middle income nations. The effect: hundreds of millions of people are forced to fight these battles without the care that could significantly improve their lives, which has devastating impact on their families and communities. Poor mental health is projected to cost the world economy approximately $6 trillion by 2030. In contrast, every $1 invested in treating anxiety and depression returns $4 through improved health and productivity.
It is essential that the G20 increases its effort to combat this crisis. And there is plenty of room for improvement. In 2017, the WHO found that governments spend less than 2% of their health care expenditures on mental health, and global development assistance has devoted less than 1% of health-focused funds to addressing these ailments. As nations look to make investments that support mental health, there are holistic models we can look to as starting points. For example, New Zealand has embraced the Living Standards Framework, which moves beyond only using GDP to track growth and reviews well-being across 10 domains including health status, personal security, and environmental quality.
This is a step in the right direction, but to truly confront this issue we must acknowledge that there is still no metric that adequately captures well-being in all its dimensions, including mental health, or quantifies its impact on resilience. This information deficit cannot continue—because without measurements, we will not be able to track progress or maximize investments to improve mental and physical well-being and bolster both personal and societal resilience. The G20 nations must recognize that we are facing a severe problem and commit the resources necessary to create a resilient society that that gives all people the opportunity to grow and thrive.