Mental health is at the tipping point of being the world’s leading health affliction, a leading researcher in the field said in Brisbane on Wednesday.
In an address of the first day of the G20 warm-up event the Global Cafe at City Hall, Kathleen Pike, head of the global mental health program at New York’s Columbia University, said investment in treatment was at a critical point.
“It is time for the world to recognise mental health is the leading cause of disability and it’s time to make mental health a priority on the global health agenda,” Dr Pike said.
Dr Pike was one of a number of world-renowned experts to address Brisbane Marketing’s curtain-raiser event to the weekend summit.
Improving human health is one of the topics canvassed at the Global Cafe as well as future economics, the digital age, tourism’s new frontiers and cities of the future.
The two-day event features experts, entrepreneurs and global leaders who, through a series of keynote addresses and forums, discuss five separate topics of global importance.
As part of her discussion, Dr Pike described mental health as a “woefully underfunded” area and said a failure of world governments and industries to address the issues now would result in deleterious social and economic impacts in coming years.
“People are living longer, we need to think about what are the problems they have to live with, so the problems are only going to get bigger which will mean more economic impact, more loss in terms of potential earnings, more social dislocation.”
Dr Pike said of immediate importance was addressing the average 17-year gap between a treatment breakthrough and its use becoming widespread.
She stressed with the right investment, like the fight against many communicable diseases, the battle against mental health was one that could easily be won.
“We need to translate the cost of not addressing mental health to business, to industry to governments, it should be clear at this point not investing in mental health is bad for business, bad for government economies, bad for national economies and once we can make that translation clear and make it clear we are not fighting a losing battle,”she said.
“This is not a lost cause, it’s a significant problem we can address.
“Businesses, governments can make a difference in the quality of life for their populations in profound ways.
“We just need to take it out of the shadows and act.”
The Global Cafe is continuing at City Hall throughout Wednesday.
This article first appeared on ‘Brisbane Times’ on 12 November 2014.