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World Mental Health Day: Statistics About Mental Health

Today, being World Mental Health Day, is a day recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for people to spread awareness and understanding about mental health.

Every year, this day gives people the chance to talk about mental health issues and what more needs to be done to improve the services for people struggling with mental issues.

This year, the theme is “Mental Health in the Workplace” and the WHO in Abuja today has urged employers in the world to treat mental health illnesses with the same urgency and seriousness as physical illnesses. This is an opportunity to start conversations about mental health in the workplace to promote best practice, decrease negative attitudes and empower individuals.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, had some pointers to give.


  • There is a strong relationship between workplace stress and poor mental health, but mental health is often neglected as a key aspect of employee health.
  • Most working people spend over 60 percent of their wake hours at work, mental health at work is the heart of daily social interactions.
  • An estimated 10 percent of the employed population in the world has taken time off work because of depression.
  • On average, 36 work days are lost when a worker gets depressed.
  • Social acceptance of people with mental health illnesses has not improved much in the last 20 years.
  • At least 50 per cent of people with depression do not receive treatment. In the African region, lack of information, stigma and cultural issues are significant barriers that prevent people from seeking help.
  • Up to 80 per cent of those treated improve usually within four to six weeks; depression is preventable and treatable if diagnosed early.
  • Work-related stress costs global society billions of dollars annually in direct and indirect costs.



  • Employers should be change agents by modifying risk factors for stress in the workplace, creating an organisational climate that promotes wellbeing, creativity and facilitating care for those who need it.
  • Employees should take steps to learn the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem and engage in prevention including talking about it.
  • Symptoms like difficulties in concentrating and making decisions cause significant impairment in productivity at work.
  • Although equal opportunity laws for people with disability in the workplace exist in many countries, mental illness is associated with the greatest disadvantage in terms of employment rates.
  • Mental health friendly workplace programmes and practices that promote employees’ wellness and work-life balance are essential.
  • Mental health problems have a critical impact on economic development and productivity losses from absenteeism are substantial and appear to be increasing.
  • We need to tackle not only employer stigma but also to invest in mental health promotion, prevention and treatment programmes in the workplace.
  • Treating anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders is an affordable, cost effective way to promote wellbeing and prosperity.
  • Countries need to promote mental health in the workplace and build broad coalitions to promote best practice. They also need to decrease negative attitudes and empower individuals to promote good mental health for all.

Workplace wellbeing is key to ensuring a healthy and sustainable workforce, which is essential for a healthier, more productive and prosperous African Region.


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World Mental Health Day
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