MHPSS worldwide: facts and figures

What about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) worldwide?

Mental health in general

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 1 out of every 4 people will be impacted by poor mental health or mental illness at some point in their lives.
  • 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
  • According to the WHO, each year an estimated 800,000 people take their own lives – almost twice the number of people killed by malaria.
  • Suicide is the second highest cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. Percentages are especially high among girls and young women.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 people with a mental condition experience stigma and discrimination.
  • In high-income countries, 5 out of 10 people that require MHPSS cannot access the care they need. In low- and middle-income countries, this number rises to 9 out of 10 people.

Mental health during and after disasters and conflicts

  • According to the WHO, 20% of people affected by disasters and conflicts require psychosocial support.
  • Worldwide, more than 70 million people are currently displaced as a result of violence and conflict – the highest number since World War II.
  • Mental health issues usually persist much longer in crisis situations because of the ongoing stress and lack of support.
  • Mental issues caused by crisis situations hamper social and economic reconstruction.

Economic costs of mental health issues

  • In total, poor mental health costs the world economy an estimated USD 2.5 trillion a year in reduced economic productivity and physical ill-health. This will rise to USD 6 trillion by 2030, alongside social costs and the contribution to poverty, homelessness and crime.
  • According to the World Economic Forum, mental illness will account for more than half of the economic burden of disease over the next two decades – more than cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases combined.
  • 54% of the economic burden of disease falls to low- and middle-income countries.
  • Investing in MHPSS also brings economic returns. The World Bank estimates that for every dollar invested in treating mental conditions, there is a return of between USD 3.3 and USD 5.7 dollars in economic and social benefits.

MHPSS spending

  • Spending on mental healthcare continues to be low compared to total healthcare spending. In 2015, for example, a total of USD 36 billion was spent on healthcare. Only USD 110 million of this – 0.3% – was spent on mental health.
  • Low-income countries spend around USD 0.02 per person on mental healthcare. This should be a minimum of USD 3 to USD 4.
  • The world’s most important mental healthcare donors are the US, the UK, Germany, France, Canada and Australia.
  • In 2000-2015, charities accounted for around 30% of all development spending on mental healthcare.

Mental healthcare staff

Number of mental healthcare staff per 100,000 inhabitants
Europe 50                   
Middle East 2.7
Southeast Asia 2.5
Africa 0.9