It is estimated that people with a severe mental disorder die up to 20 years earlier than the general population, as well as being six to seven times more likely to be unemployed, with one in two people with mental ill-health having complications in their career (prospects, wages and productivity). Less severe mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are also concerning. It is estimated that 15% of the working age population is affected at any given time and worldwide 56.3% of people with depression do not receive appropriate treatment.

These undertreated disorders contribute greatly to a decrease in productivity, sickness absences, disability and unemployment in OECD countries.


Mental health is still receiving insufficient attention in all countries: it is estimated that only around a half of people with disorders do not receive treatment.


The lack of information and data about mental health illness is not helping to solve the problem. Countries struggle to understand how mental health services work and how they can provide good quality care.

Investing more in primary care would be a cost-effective way of treating mild-to-moderate mental disorders.

  • Supplementary support for primary care should include:
  • Mental health training and ongoing professional development for all primary care physicians and nurses;
  • Better support from mental health specialists for primary care providers;
  • Improved access for primary care practitioners to specialist services for patient referral.

«Report» Mental Health Systems in OECD Countries


EPHA related articles

Last modified on July 16 2014.