The Global Mental-Health Crisis Demands New Thinking
Even rich-country psychiatric systems lack the capacity to offer traditional mental-health services as widely as needed. Fortunately, lower-resource countries have been pioneering new, scalable models for delivering high-quality, low-cost psychiatric care to communities where it was not previously available.
LONDON – The world is in the grips of a mental-health crisis. From rising climate anxiety in rich countries like the United States to intense trauma in conflict zones like Ukraine and Gaza (especially among children), psychological suffering has become widespread, and traditional health-care services cannot keep up. This leaves tens of millions of people at risk of serious pathologies and suicide.
As it stands, more than 25% of the world’s population reports feelings of social isolation and loneliness, and more than 150,000 people aged 15-29 die by suicide each year. Climate change threatens to increase these bleak figures. As the American Psychiatric Association reports, climate change can “lead to job loss, force people to move, and harm social cohesion and community resources, all of which have mental-health consequences.” Moreover, contemplating climate change and its consequences for both “national security and individual well-being” can cause “significant distress.”
No groups are spared. Young people fear for their future; older people grieve the destruction of the world of their childhoods; and activists and climate scientists suffer from emotional burnout and despair. And this is to say nothing of the post-traumatic stress and depression experienced by those already affected by climate-related disasters, particularly in vulnerable developing economies.