World Mental Health Day 2021

Our 30-country survey finds a large majority think their mental health and physical health are equally important, but they do not see this reflected in their country’s healthcare services.

  • On average, eight in 10 (79%) across 30 countries say that their mental and physical health are equally important when it comes to their personal health.
  • But only one-third (35%) think that healthcare systems in their country treat mental and physical health with equal importance. A larger proportion (42%) think healthcare treats physical health with greater importance.
  • Our study shows that younger people and women are more likely to think about their own mental health.
  • Mental health is the third most important health problem facing people in their country, according to the global public, now only slightly behind cancer.

How often do you think about your mental/physical wellbeing?

While over half (53%) across all countries say that they think about their mental wellbeing ‘fairly’ or very’ often, people tend to think about their physical wellbeing more frequently (68% fairly/very often). One in ten (11%) say they never think about their mental health, compared to 5% for physical health.

Women tend to think about their mental health more than men do (58% very/fairly often vs. 48%). We also see some generational differences; 61% of under-35s think about their mental wellbeing at least ‘fairly often’, compared to 42% of over-50s.

Demographic differences are less pronounced when it comes to how often people think about their physical health.

The countries where people report thinking about their mental health most often are Brazil (75%), South Africa (71%), and Colombia (71%).

In China, South Korea, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden, people are more likely to say that they do not think about their mental wellbeing very often.

How important are mental and physical health to you?

On average, eight in 10 (79%) across 30 countries say they consider their mental and physical health to be equally important when it comes to their personal health.

We find greatest proportions saying they are ‘equally important’ in:

  • Hungary (90%)
  • Mexico (88%)
  • Colombia (86%)
  • Peru (86%)
  • Chile (86%)

Among those who think one is one more important than the other, more people are likely to select mental health (12%) than physical health (6%).

The countries with the largest proportions of people saying that mental health is most important are Saudi Arabia (26%), India (24%), Sweden (20%), Turkey (18%), and Brazil (16%).

The countries with the largest proportions of people saying that physical health is most important are Saudi Arabia (14%), India (13%), Japan (10%), China (10%), and Australia (10%).

How are mental and physical health treated in healthcare systems?

Despite widespread agreement that mental and physical health are equally important to an overall picture of health, people are less likely to think that their country’s healthcare systems treat them equally: 35% globally say this is the case, while 42% say that physical health is treated with greater importance. Only 9% think that mental health is treated as more important.

There is strongest agreement that physical health is treated with greater importance in:

  • Great Britain (60%)
  • The US (55%)
  • Brazil (55%)
  • South Africa (54%)
  • Sweden (54%)

The countries where more think that both mental and physical health are treated as equally important are:

  • Malaysia (60%)
  • China (54%)
  • Japan (47%)
  • Mexico (45%)

This points to a discrepancy when it comes to how the public perceive their own health and how it is treated by healthcare services in their country: only 6% say that their physical health is more important than their mental health but 42% think that this is treated with greater importance.

Mental health as a top global health concern

Our global average across 30 countries sees mental health emerge this year as the third most important health problem facing the public in their country. Almost a third (31%) see this as a top health issue, only 3 points shy of the figure recorded for cancer (34%). The top health concern in 2021 is Coronavirus (70%), continuing what we saw last year when it was first introduced in the survey.

Mental health is the top health concern in Sweden (63%) and Chile (59%). After these two, the countries that are particularly likely to say mental health is a key health concern are: Australia (47%), Canada (43%), Colombia (41%), Singapore (40%), Brazil (40%), and Great Britain (40%).

The countries where fewer members of the public consider mental health an important health concern are Japan (9%), Mexico (11%), France (12%), and Saudi Arabia (14%).

These are the results of a 30-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 21,513 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, aged 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in 24 other markets between Friday, August 20 and Friday, September 3, 2021.

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