Science//

Key Takeaways From Kaiser Permanente’s Discussion on Mental Health at Davos

A panel of experts addressed the world’s leading cause of disability.

Courtesy of Kat Smith/Pexels

This year, the nonprofit Kaiser Permanente (KP) sponsored a panel on mental health at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Fortune’s Clifton Leaf reports. He notes that, according to the 2016 Global Burden of Disease study, published annually in The Lancet, “When taken together, mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders are the world’s leading cause of disability,” and, “they’re responsible for one in every 10 lost years of human health.” And yet, according to mental health expert Pamela Collins, who was part of the panel discussion, “despite this, most people with a mental disorder do not receive minimally adequate care.”

There are many possible reasons for this inadequate level of care. Illustrating the need for further understanding and recognition of these diseases, KP CEO Bernard Tyson explained that in the KP system, “nearly a third of primary care visits for patients presenting with physical symptoms, the underlying cause appeared to be related in some way to a mental health issue.”

As Leaf says, it’s a sign of growing despair. “The harm of hopelessness is being felt everywhere and in greater amounts,” he writes, “from the widespread burden of depression to steadily increasing suicide rates to the alarming epidemic of opioid misuse.” It’s also part of what Leaf calls “the coming deluge” of Alzheimer’s and other age-related dementia conditions as our population gets older. Leaf’s takeaway? “You have a fast-growing burden of mind and brain disease that will fall heavily on both national healthcare systems and family caregivers,” he writes. “The mental health disorder time bomb is upon us.”

Read more on the panel here

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