Sally Souraya, Thomas Canning, Paul Farmer
Publication date: 
12 November 2018

The global healthcare community has long focused its efforts predominantly on physical health, leaving mental health behind in terms of awareness, public perception and health prioritization. Over the last few years, however, we have seen a shift in awareness and understanding of mental health. People are more likely to be open about their experiences with mental health problems; media coverage has increased; and senior public figures are recognizing the importance of mental health to our society.

Hundreds of millions of people suffer from anxiety and depression. These conditions place the heaviest mental health burden on global society and are the largest contributors to years lived with disability – so much so that they can be considered as global pandemics. Attempts to prevent and treat these conditions require a persistent multifaceted approach, yet we are currently underprepared to address this major health and social issue at the local, national and international level.

This report aims to support policymakers to tackle anxiety and depression by highlighting successful evidence-based solutions to managing these conditions. It also offers a roadmap to implementing the most appropriate solutions, especially in the field of prevention. This will include next generation initiatives to address the mental health needs of the 21st century that range from novel cost-effective approaches and workplace and community schemes, to the wider application of digital solutions. The report also introduces a WISH National Anxiety and Depression Plan Checklist to assess the current policy status regarding anxiety and depression for each nation.

This report makes the case that a prioritized, focused approach to anxiety and depression can mitigate the risks of these conditions, and contribute to the health and wellbeing of any nation.