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Mental Health Issues Affect 26% of Americans: WHO To Address Mental Disorders

Update Date: Apr 15, 2016 07:19 PM EDT

Mental health issue is not rare as 26 percent of Americans who are 18 years old and above are living with diagnosable mental disorder. Even famous celebrities like Catherine Zeta Jones and Mel Gibson are battling with bipolar disorder.

According to NY Mag's Science of Us, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced its goal to strengthen its focus on mental health issues. While it is a good step to address mental disorder as a central piece of physical health, the organization's move is also practical when it comes to economic concerns.

The director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO, Dr. Shekhar Saxena stated that failure to address anxiety, depression and other mental health issues is costing the world $1 trillion annually. "This is a trillion with a 'T,'" Saxena added.

Every country needs mental-health care advances especially to those who belong to developing nations. According to Saxena, while rich countries have a psychiatrist for every thousand people, there are poor countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia where there is only one mental-health worker for1 million or more population.

On the other hand, according to a data from WHO, refugees need special attention as they are 50 to 100 percent more likely to develop some kind of mental disorder like other people who are affected by humanitarian crises.

Fox News reported that the number of people who are affected by these crises has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. The number of refugees alone has reached 60 million since World War Two.

The WHO estimates the rampancy of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression jumps from 10 to 20 percent during a humanitarian crisis.

"The number of people affected by humanitarian crises is increasing globally, which also increases mental health needs," said the global mental health and psychosocial adviser at aid agency International Medical Corps, Inka Weissbecker.

According to Weissbecker, some countries that are affected by war such as South Sudan and Sierra Leone have only one or two psychiatrists shared the by the entire population. Donors for South Sudan used to consider mental health care a luxury in a nation belongs to the countries with highest maternal death rates.

"The problem with mental health is it's often invisible because it's not measured, so people such as donors or local governments may not think about it, or think it's important," said Weissbecker.

The lack of knowledge and the stigma that comes with the condition are big barriers in all countries and many people do not know that mental illnesses are treatable, she added.

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