Linking Mental Health & NCD Priorities
Mental health conditions are one of the major groups of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) with crucial relevance in efforts to control and prevent NCDs. Mental health also has links to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and other NCDs. By considering mental ill health and other NCDs together, we can improve the lives of people affected by NCDs worldwide, and guide advocacy at global, regional and national level for strong commitments at the September 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs.
By definition, mental, neurological and substance use disorders are NCDs, and they often co-occur and share many features:
- Mental conditions are often determined by the environment and social circumstances in which people live, and their exposure to risk factors. Many of the modifiable factors that influence the likelihood of a person being affected by major physical NCDs (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, cancer) also impact on mental health, for example diet, exercise, and use of alcohol and drugs.
- Mental conditions can occur at any time of life, and are often long-lasting (chronic) and require longterm management and support rather than one-off treatment. In many parts of the world, this care is not widely available.
- Mental conditions often occur in conjunction with other physical NCDs. People living with chronic physical conditions have higher rates of mental conditions, especially depression and anxiety. This may not be well recognised, but we know that physical health outcomes are worse if people have a mental condition, including a drastically reduced lifespan.1 Likewise, mental health outcomes tend to be worse for those living with comorbid chronic conditions like other NCDs
Mental health has long been overlooked when NCDs are discussed or seen as being separate. But the synergies across all NCDs including mental health mean it makes sense for governments to address the common risk factors and systems barriers to reduce premature and preventable suffering and death. In alignment with target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “by 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being”, mental health must be integrated into the response to NCDs.
This resource details 6 key campaign priorities for ENOUGH and was developed by members of the World Federation for Mental Health, Mental Health Innovation Network and NCD Alliance to support advocacy by global health advocates seeking integration of Mental Health into policy, processes and actions to prevent and control NCDs.