Mental Health Indicators (2023)

Mental health is a complex problem that affects everyone, regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status. Early warning signs are often missed as a result of stigma, lack of mental health education and diagnostic bias.

To ensure accurate and meaningful measurement and improve population mental health, a set of indicators must be recorded that take into account the full spectrum of disease severity. Indicators must also be policy relevant and not focus solely on symptomatic outcomes.

1. Suicide Rates

Suicide rates vary widely across the world, ranging from over 20 per 100,000 people in Eastern Europe, South Korea and Zimbabwe to less than 5 per 100,000 in North Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia and Peru.

In many countries, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents and young adults. However, this is not the case in most high-income nations.

This map shows the number of deaths by suicide per year in each country. It can be viewed for any country or region using the “change country” toggle.

In some high-income countries, suicide has risen in recent decades. It is believed to be linked with economic instability. This may be because many people have lost their jobs in these economies or because of a lack of affordable treatment and services for mental illness.

2. Perceived Stigma

Perceived stigma, referring to the attitudes people have about people with mental illness, is a major barrier to help-seeking. It has been associated with reduced help-seeking, relapse, treatment adherence and health outcomes.

Stigma is also a significant barrier to mental health services and social support. Reducing stigma is a key mental health intervention and should be incorporated into all formal health care services, including primary care and psychiatric services.

A systematic review was performed to identify relevant quantitative and qualitative studies on stigma and help-seeking. Three main sets of literature were identified: association studies (which measured the relationship between stigma scores and measures of help-seeking); barriers studies (which measured the proportion of people who experience one or more stigma-related barriers to help-seeking); and qualitative process studies (which explored the processes by which stigma may deter help-seeking).

3. Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescence is a time of rapid development in many ways, but it is also the period when mental health problems and disorders are most common. A number of mood disorders like depression, anxiety disorders (including phobias and excessive worry and fear), and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder) first appear during adolescence.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults, and about a quarter of those with depressive disorders develop them during adolescence.

Protective factors can help reduce the risk of developing a mental illness or substance use disorder, and they include a stable family environment, good social support, and a healthy sense of self-esteem.

However, mental health problems and disorders affect one in every five teenagers at some point in their lives. It is critical to identify them early so that they can be treated before they become serious and a lifelong impairment occurs. This requires increased access to mental health services and strategies for promoting positive mental health.

4. Addictions

Addiction is a chronic (lifelong) disease characterized by an intense, uncontrollable urge to use dangerous substances or engage in harmful activities, even if this harms your health, relationships and other parts of your life. It's a disorder that can be fatal, so treatment is recommended for anyone who suffers from an addiction.

Genetics, environment and behavior can all play a role in developing an addiction. Often, childhood experiences such as physical, sexual or verbal abuse; neglect; witnessing violence; and parental separation or divorce can contribute to an addiction.

Substances like drugs or alcohol can cause physical changes in the brain that make it harder to control your urge to use them, so it's important to seek help if you think you may have an addiction. Treatment can include counseling, medications and other therapies to help you stop using and maintain sobriety. Groups can also be helpful, especially for those with co-occurring disorders. These groups are especially effective when they continue to meet after the initial treatment program ends.

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