Mental illness is a big problem almost everywhere in the world, and we bring you the list of 16 countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world.
Term “mental illness” refers to a wide range of mental disorders which affect person’s behavior mood and overall functioning. Causes of mental illness can range from genetic to environmental factors, but research shows that mental disorders are often caused by a combination of genetic, psychological, biological and environmental factors. Hereditary (genetic) factor refers to the fact that you are more likely to be affected by mental illness than someone who doesn’t have mental illness in his/her family but it does not mean, in any way, that you will definitely inherit the mental disorder. Psychological trauma can trigger mental illness as well as certain environmental factors and exposure to various stressors. We can say that a mixture of these factors also affects positions of certain countries on mental health statistics list.
There are different types of mental illness including anxiety disorders, mood disorders (such as depression and bipolar disorder), psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia), eating disorders (anorexia nervous, bulimia nervosa, binge eating), personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, etc. Mental illness rates around the world vary, but one of the most common mental illnesses is depression. In the United States, depression affects around 40 million people every year, which is about 18.1% of the population. We’ve also created a list of 15 most depressed countries in the world that might be interesting for you. According to the WHO depression rates by country for 2016, the U.S. is ranked third for unipolar depressive disorders, preceded only by India and China. Another very prevalent mental illness is anxiety, and according to anxiety rates by country, Australia and New Zealand are at the top of the list while the U.S. takes the third place. Surprisingly, these mental health rankings by country show that some developed countries are ranked higher than developing countries, at least according to mental illness statistics worldwide.
In order to compile this list of 16 countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world, we’ve checked the thread on Quora on most depressed countries in the world and took a look at the map that was provided. Then there was Insider Monkey article on countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world which was very important for collecting ideas. In case you are wondering what country has the most mental illness, check out the number one on the list. We’ve also checked US News, WHO’s World Health Atlas, NBC News’ article on mental health, WHO’s global health estimates and statistics for Europe which show a number of deaths caused by mental disorders. The list is compiled of countries which have a very high rate of mental illnesses, and in order to complete the list, a transnational study on mental health issues was very helpful. Since data collected for these countries varies a lot (reliability of sources, year of publishing as well as sampling techniques), we’ve decided to rank the countries uniquely – according to the neuropsychiatric disorders (in the given country) and its contribution to the global burden of disease. Data for each of the countries is published by WHO. Since there was no data for the UK, it is placed at the bottom of the list. Other countries are ranked from lowest to the highest percentage.
16. United Kingdom
In the UK one out of four people is diagnosed with mental illness. The most common mental illness diagnosed in the UK is depression, and others include OCD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and eating disorders. According to the survey conducted in the UK, 26% out of 5000 participants were diagnosed with mental illness.
Global burden of disease: 11.2%
Just like its neighboring countries, Bangladesh, the number 15 on our list of countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world, has high rates of mental illness although additional research is needed to evaluate the situation in more details. The reported prevalence varies between 6.5% to 31% among adults and 13.4% to 22.9% among children which is a very high rate. National Mental Health survey estimated the rate of 16.05%. One of the problems in this country is that treatment of mental illness is not a priority in Bangladesh and that a lot of people do not receive the treatment they need, partially due to lack of resources and partially because of stigmatization of mental illness.
Global burden of disease: 11.6%
WHO’s report states that 7.5% Indians suffer from mental illnesses and 4.5% suffer from depression (which is around 56 million). Another battle in India, when it comes to mental illness, is the fact that people with mental illness are more likely to turn to priests and religious persons for treatment rather than actual medical doctors. Research shows that treatment gap for all mental disorder is 60% and nearly 80% of people will mental illness did not receive any medical treatment mostly because of societal stigmatization of mental illness. Stigmatization affects all age groups, regardless of their economic situation. In case of minors who experience symptoms of mental illness, treatment is often unavailable because they need the approval of family members which is hard to acquire because association with mental illness can bring “disgrace” to the family.
Global burden of disease: 11.9%
Similarly like in India, Pakistanis turn to temples and shrines to get help for mental illness rather than to medical professionals. This is especially common among the poor population since they cannot pay for medical services. Data shows that there are around 50 million Pakistanis suffering from mental illness which is around 10 to 20% of the population and the vast majority is not getting the proper care. There is a large number of children affected by mental illness as well.
Global burden of disease: 17.6%
Along with India, one-third of the global burden of mental illness (healthy years lost due to mental illness) fall on China. Reasons are very similar, like in India, because very few people seek medical help and only 1% of the national health budget is allocated to mental health issues. The issue becomes more serious when we consider that mental illness is on the rise and the country does not have means to deal with the existing problem. Estimates show that 36.9 million years of healthy life will be lost due to mental illness by 2025 which is 10% increase in case of China.
Global burden of disease: 19.4%
The most common form of mental illness in Mexico is depression. Surveys showed that 1 out of 8 Mexicans suffers from mental illness and that half of Mexico’s population suffered a depressive episode in that year. 12-month prevalence study showed that 12.1% of participants suffered from mental illness and the causes were closely connected with income, and those with lower income were more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorder.
And now, let’s see the top ten countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world.
Global burden of disease: 20.3%
Data shows that around 25% of Brazilian population develop a mental illness during their lifetime and mental disorders are among top 10 factors in Brazil that cause inability to participate in everyday activities. Another research focusing on elderly population pointed out that prevalence of mental disorder among this age group is around 29.3%. Although the results pinpoint the problem of mental illness in the elderly population in urban areas, the percentage cannot be fully reliable since the researchers used a relatively small sample (327 people) that cannot be generalized to the whole nation.
Global burden of disease: 24.6%
Japan found its place on this list of countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world due to the fact that around 23.6% of people in Japan contemplated about commenting suicide. In 2015, the suicide rate for men was 26.9 (per 100.000) and for women 10.1%. The following year approximately 70 people per day committed suicide. Japan is known for high suicide rates which can be closely connected with mental illnesses, particularly depression.
Global burden of disease: 27.4%
The economic crisis in Spain contributed to an increase in mental illness in the country. 2010 data showed an increase in patients with anxiety, mood disorders and depression which was linked with a mortgage, debt and financial issues. In case of Spain, mental illness rate was higher in men than women.
The following two countries share the 6th place on our list of countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world.
Global burden of disease: 29.4%
Despite the rise of awareness and initiatives to battle mental illness, it is still on the rise in Australia, especially among teenagers. Mental illnesses are a third leading cause of disability in Australia. Almost a quarter of youth (ages 15-19) show signs of mental illness. Girls are twice more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders than boys.
Global burden of disease: 29.4%
Mental illnesses are the main the primary cause of invalidity in Belgium, and it is among top three countries when it comes to suicide rates in Europe. Netherlands and Belgium are the only countries that allow euthanasia for patients with mental illness, and from 2014 to 2015, 124 out of 3,950 euthanasia cases were persons diagnosed with some form of mental illness. The case of Belgium rises many moral and ethical concerns and poses a question if there was anything else that could be done to help patients with mental illness.
Global burden of disease: 30.8%
Although the Netherlands has good support in terms of providing treatment of mental illnesses, rates show that mental illnesses are on the rise in the Netherlands as well. According to Jacobine Geel, head of GGZ Netherlands believes that the possible cause of this increase are the budget cuts in the field of mental health care. When it comes to deaths caused by mental illness, Netherlands has a higher rate (7.4%) than the European average.
And now, let’s see the top four countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world.
Global burden of disease: 30.9%
Mental illness is very pervasive in the U.S. and data for 2016 show that one out of six U.S. citizens live with mental illness which equates to 44.7 million people. Prevalence is higher in women than men. Some states have higher rates of mental illness than others. For example, New Jersey has the lowest rates of overall and severe mental illness while Utah has highest rates of mental illness (22.3% of adult population) and reports show that most cases of severe mental illnesses are found in West Virginia.
Global burden of disease: 30.9%
Germany ranks third on our list of countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world. This country leads the way when it comes to commitment to treating patients with mental illness and providing financial support. Also, it has a very high rated for mental disorders. The 12-month prevalence was 31%. The highest rate (14.5%) is attributed to anxiety.
Global burden of disease: 32%
Couple of years ago, you could find series of articles that mention France as “the most depressed country in the world.” This was backed by cross-national study which showed that France, along with Belgium is at the top of the list.
Global burden of disease: 35.1%
Switzerland is among the countries which have the highest percentage of psychiatrists per capita. It is estimated that one-fifth of the population is affected by mental illness. Although Switzerland has among most expensive health systems in the world, a lot of money is invested in the mental health sector and a good system of treating mental disorders. Still according to our ranking Switzerland takes the number one spot on our list of 16 countries with the highest mental illness rates in the world.