The state of mental health has declined around the world, especially during and since the pandemic. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and research by Sapiens Labs, this is due to various factors but is correlated with the global implementation of lockdown regulations and the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Research shows that younger generations in particular are struggling, which makes it essential for us to find ways to improve mental wellbeing around the world to ensure the adequate functioning of civil society in the future.
In this post, we’ll share some of the statistics from both the WHO and Sapiens Labs, as well as some of the reasons for the decline in mental wellness. We’ll also share some essential tips that can help you better manage your own mental wellness by implementing simple coping strategies.
Global mental health statistics
To get an idea of the current climate, we will take a look at data from a recent 2022 WHO report and an interesting set of annual research data put together by Sapiens Labs in 2021 called The Mental State of the World Report.
Recent WHO data and statistics
The WHO released its comprehensive World Mental Health Report in June 2022 which gives a detailed overview of the current state of mental wellbeing in the world. It outlines what has and hasn’t changed since their previous report released in 2001.
A few key statistics that paint a picture of the current status quo include that mental health issues are prevalent in all countries and that one in eight people lives with a mental health disorder. Anxiety and depression issues are the most common, along with suicide, which accounts for one in every hundred deaths, mostly among younger people.
The latest Mental State of the World Report
To get a more in-depth look at the state of mental wellbeing around the world, the Mental State of the World Report collects data from various countries through an online assessment tool called the MHQ. This tool categorises responses according to a sliding scale, from 0 to 100, or from Distressed to Thriving. This data is collected from internet-enabled parts of the world. Therefore, it doesn’t cover regions with low internet access, but gives some indication of the challenges people face around the world.
A key result of the most recent Mental State of the World report is that the core Anglosphere, which includes North America, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, performed the lowest, with 30% of respondents categorised into the Distressed or Struggling range. The highest performing regions were Europe and West Africa, which both had average mental health scores of above 70.
Interestingly, one of the key points that came up from the analysis of the survey results showed that there was a negative correlation between high mental health scores and economic growth, with Venezuela topping the list with an average score of 91.
Why are we struggling with our mental health?
According to the Mental State of the World Report, South Africa and the UK had the highest percentage of distressed and struggling individuals, which is cause for concern. Interestingly, both of these countries also had the same lowest average mental health score of 46. Some of the reasons for this appear to be the low Social Self scores in Anglophone countries, which refers to how you view yourself and can connect and build relationships with others.
Surprisingly, as we’ve mentioned above, economic prosperity doesn’t correlate with mental wellness, which calls into question our focus on accumulating material wealth, which could come at the expense of our mental wellbeing. On that note, countries with a high level of Performance Orientation also show lower health scores. This refers to the way individual performance is valued, which could lead to individual stress and performance anxiety.
Other interesting correlations include a negative correlation between Institutional Collectivism and Individualism with mental health scores. Related to the correlations noted above, countries with higher levels of Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance and Family Collectivism showed higher scores overall. These relate to the more entrenched structure of hierarchies and family units.
While individualism and personal growth are an important part of overcoming sometimes oppressive social structures, could the uncertainty that comes with “going it alone” be wrecking havoc on our sense of belonging? By taking note of these statistics, we are forced to think about what is important when it comes to our wellbeing. While individualism might be good for economic growth, it doesn’t seem to benefit our overall wellbeing.
Tips for managing your mental balance
As mentioned above, this study doesn’t necessarily give an exhaustive overview of everyone’s mental wellness, but it does show some trends that give pause to think about how we can cope better.
Apart from seeking professional help for chronic and debilitating social and emotional issues, which needs to become more accessible and affordable for everyone, here are some basic tips for managing your mental wellbeing day to day:
- Regular exercise: this is very effective for boosting your mood, improving your overall health and building physical strength.
- Social engagement: developing a solid social support network is a crucial factor in wellbeing, which could explain why collectivist cultures have higher average mental health scores.
- Healthy diet: as with exercising regularly, eating well can help you to improve your self-image, feel better and prevent any unnecessary physical ailments.
- Cognitive and intellectual stimulation: results from the survey showed that people with Master’s degrees had a higher average mental health score, which shows that intellectual stimulation can help to improve your wellbeing.
Learn more about mental wellness with SACAP Global
Apart from our range of offerings in counselling skills and interpersonal communication, SACAP Global will be offering a short course that focuses on mental health in 2023.
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