Why might mental health be a pressing global issue?
Improving mental health seems like one of the most direct ways of making people better off, since it’s specifically targeted at their subjective experience.
Mental health in general gets much less attention than physical health from people thinking about how to make the world a better place because it’s not as well understood. This means it’s more neglected, but also likely means it’s harder to make progress.
There are several promising areas for research into mental health that appear to have not yet been adequately explored, for example new drug therapies.
Improving mental health in the developing world might be an area where you can have a substantial impact, because it is particularly neglected by existing institutions and markets.
Our guess is that improving physical health in poor countries is still likely to have a bigger impact on welfare for the same resources, given that there are several common diseases we can treat easily with more funding — but we’re not sure.
There is also some chance that, like economic growth and better physical health, better mental health in a population could have positive indirect effects that accumulate over time.
Want to learn more about global issues we think are especially pressing? See our list of issues that are large in scale, solvable, and neglected, according to our research.