Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, is partnering with the World Economic Forum (WEF) as part of a concerted and coordinated effort to improve global mental health.
The partnership, announced last month at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was established following the WEF’s 2018 Davos meeting, where mental health was consistently identified as an area requiring global attention.
Orygen is the lead partner on the WEF’s Youth Mental Health Interventions project, which is one of four initial projects for 2019 under the WEF’s mental health portfolio.
Globally, young people have the worst access to mental health care despite mental ill-health being the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes for young people aged 10-24 years.
Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen, said the project would draw on Orygen’s expertise in youth mental health research, clinical innovation, service delivery and reform, to establish a global model of integrated youth mental health care. The model would take into account disparities between high, middle and low-income countries, he said.
“We are honoured to be partnering with the WEF on this landmark project,” Professor McGorry said. “Youth mental health is a global issue that brings with it a massive emotional, physical and economic toll that affects young people, their families and communities all over the world.
“Although youth mental health integration and reform has commenced and has momentum in several high-income countries, the situation globally remains fragmented and lacks sufficient political will to transform the landscape of care and health economics. This is what makes this partnership so critical,” Professor McGorry said.
The World Economic Forum estimates that global mental ill-health costs $2.5 trillion a year in lost productivity, and that the direct and indirect costs of mental illness amount to more than that of cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease combined. “The economic imperative for investing in mental health cannot be underestimated or ignored,” Professor McGorry said.
“The global data we have on the prevalence of mental health ill-health amongst the world’s population is staggering. For example, close to 900,000 people die by suicide each year, it is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, and people with severe mental ill-health die up to 20 years younger and have higher rates of unemployment and are poorer that the rest of the population.”
The Orygen-led WEF project, which will report back to the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos in 2020, will focus on delivering:
- A youth mental health model of care developed in consultation with international experts and young people;
- An investment framework to ensure optimal mental health outcomes for young people and their families;
- An economic briefing for governments that will highlight the benefits to both government and communities of investing in youth mental health; and
- A toolkit to support local advocates of youth mental health to engage with public and private sectors to make the economic case for local investment in youth mental health.
“This partnership between Orygen and the WEF has the potential to transform the way in which the world cares for our young people,” Professor McGorry said. “It makes humane and economic sense to invest in the mental health of all young people, no matter who they are, or where they live.”