World Mental Health Day 2021

In a 30-country survey, Ipsos finds that 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 ten (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 facilities and practitioners treat physical health with greater importance;
  • 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 in importance.

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% whom think about their physical health.

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

Women tend to think about their mental health more than men do (58% vs. 48% ‘very/fairly often’). 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 (73%), 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 ten (79%) across 30 countries say they consider their mental and physical health to be equally important when it comes to their personal health. The greatest proportions saying they are ‘equally important’ are in Hungary (90%), Mexico (88%), Colombia (86%), Peru (86%), and Chile (86%).

Among those who think one is 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 overall 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.

Despite widespread agreement that mental and physical health are equally important to overall health, people are less likely to think that their country’s healthcare systems treat them equally

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.

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

Mental health as a top global health concern

The 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 the Coronavirus (70%), continuing the trend from 2020 when it was first introduced into 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%).

Technical detail
  • 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.
  • The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
  • The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of their general adult population under the age of 75.
  • The samples in Brazil, mainland China, Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.
  • The data is weighted so that each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.
  • The ‘Global Country Average’ reflects the average result for all the countries and markets where the survey was conducted. It has not been adjusted to the population size of each country or market and is not intended to suggest a total result.
  • Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don't know” or not stated responses.
  • The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos' use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.
  • The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.

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