The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says mental health disorders are now recognised as the fifth major non-communicable disease and a major threat to health and economic development in the 21st century in the Caribbean and worldwide.
The agency made the statement on the eve of this year’s World Mental Health Day, on October 10.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people globally will be affected by a mental disorder or neurological disorder in their lifetime and 450 million are affected by these disorders, such as, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia and substance dependency.
CARPHA added that mental health disorders are a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean region. It said in Jamaica, the burden of mental illness is predicted to cause US$2.76 billion in lost economic output from 2015-2030.
The agency said lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and this year’s campaign focuses on investment in mental health.
The World Federation for Mental Health explained that, “Good mental health is critical to the functioning of society at the best of times. It must be front and centre of every country’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The mental health and well-being of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis and are a priority to be addressed urgently.”
CARPHA said the current COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting different people in different ways, and is having a major impact on individuals’ mental health and well-being including those persons who have existing mental illnesses.