Government investment into mental health during the COVID-19 global pandemic

Matthew Keogh

Feb 4, 2021

In tough times, people need a helping hand.

Without a doubt, 2020 proved a tough time for the world; COVID-19 compromised jobs, stripped liberties and tragically took lives.

So, in the wake of COVID-19 (which is linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression),9 we investigated how countries tackled mental health in 2020 by looking at a number of factors, including investment into medical assistance and education.

From government data, we’ve given each country a score.

Why should governments invest in mental health?

Because poor mental health results in substantial social and economic costs, including loss of productivity.1

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO):1

  • Mental, behavioural, neurological and substance use disorders affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
  • An estimated 877,000 people suicide annually.
  • Cost-effective treatments exist for most mental disorders which could help some sufferers.

 

Methodology

The 37 countries listed are in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Using government data only, we were able to give each country a score based on the following categories:

Public health support. Does the government offer free or subsidised mental health services? (E.g. GP, psychiatrists, social workers, helplines etc.)
Research. Is the government investing in mental health related research?
Awareness initiatives. Does the government invest in mental health related information?

Each country gets a number in each category which contributes to their total score:

1 point: no investment prior to pandemic, no investment since
2 points: some investment prior to pandemic, decreased investment since
3 points: some investment prior to pandemic, no increase since
4 points: some investment prior to pandemic, increased investment since

A high score in the table below (e.g. 12), indicates a higher level of government investment into mental health.

The leaders in mental health investment (post COVID-19)

  • Australia launched the Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan with AUD $48.1 million in funding.2
  • The Quebec Government in Canada invested CAD $100 million in funding in mental health services.
  • In response to the pandemic, the US allocated USD $425 million in emergency funds to address mental and substance use disorders.3
  • The UK Government committed £5 million to mental health community projects to support people with their mental health during Covid-19.4
  • In their 2021 budget, Ireland announced a €38 million investment for new mental health services.5
  • The New Zealand Government allocated NZD $40 million for new integrated primary mental health and addiction services.6
  • The Swedish Government have invested an undisclosed amount (in their 2020 budget) for crisis support, counselling and trauma support.7
  • The Israeli Government have implemented numerous initiatives, including three free phone sessions with a mental health specialist.8

 

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SOURCES

Sources:

  1. World Health Organisation. WHO urges more investments, services for mental health. https://www.who.int/mental_health/who_urges_investment/en/. 2020. Accessed November 2020.
  2. Department of Health. Australia. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/covid-19-481-million-for-national-mental-health-and-wellbeing-pandemic-response-plan. Accessed November 2020.
  3. The White House. United States. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-safeguarding-americans-mental-health-preventing-tragedy-suicide/. Accessed November 2020.
  4. Government of the United Kingdom. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/5-million-funding-given-to-mental-health-community-projects. Accessed November 2020.
  5. Government of Ireland. Accessed November 2020.
  6. Department of Health. New Zealand. https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/hp7485_-_mental_health_and_wellbeing_quarter_in_review_final.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
  7. Government Offices of Sweden. https://www.government.se/articles/2020/10/about-the-covid-19-virus-for-older-people-people-with-health-conditions-and-health-and-social-care-staff-25-september/. Accessed November 2020.
  8. Government of Israel. Ministry of Health. https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/16072020_01. 2020. Accessed November 2020.
  9. Black Dog Institute. https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200319_covid19-evidence-and-reccomendations.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
  10. Coalition Avenir Quebec. https://coalitionavenirquebec.org/en/blog/2020/11/03/100-million-in-mental-health-care/. Accessed November 2020.

 

Australia

Public health support: health.gov.au. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/budget-2020-21-record-health-and-aged-care-investment-under-australias-covid-19-pandemic-plan. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
health.gov.au. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/additional-20-million-for-mental-health-and-suicide-prevention-research. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives: Queensland Government. https://mentalwellbeing.initiatives.qld.gov.au/coronavirus-support. Accessed November 2020.

Austria

Public health support: OECD. Austria should do more to help people with frequent mental health problems. https://www.oecd.org/health/austria-should-do-more-to-help-people-with-frequent-mental-health-problems.htm. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
Traunmüller, C., Stefitz, R., Gaisbachgrabner, K. et al. Psychological correlates of COVID-19 pandemic in the Austrian population. BMC Public Health 20, 1395 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09489-5. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Belgium

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/BEL.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Canada

Public health support: Coalition Avenir Quebec. https://coalitionavenirquebec.org/en/blog/2020/11/03/100-million-in-mental-health-care/. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
Government of Canada. Government of Canada and provincial partners support research addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians. https://www.canada.ca/en/institutes-health-research/news/2020/10/government-of-canada-and-provincial-partners-support-research-addressing-mental-health-impacts-of-covid-19-on-canadians.html. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Quebec. https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/mental-health/. Accessed November 2020.

Chile

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/CHL.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
Government of Chile. https://www.gob.cl/saludablemente/. Accessed November 2020.

Colombia

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/COL.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Czech Republic

Public health support: Minister for health. https://www.mzcr.cz/tiskove-centrum-mz/vliv-epidemie-koronaviru-na-narust-dusevnich-onemocneni-u-cechu-projednala-rada-vlady-pro-dusevni-zdravi/. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
Ibid.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Denmark

Public health support: The Commonwealth Fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/international-health-policy-center/countries/denmark. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
European commission. https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/en/content/youthwiki/75-mental-health-denmark. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Danish Health Authority. https://www.sst.dk/en/english/corona-eng. Accessed November 2020.

Estonia 

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/EST.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Finland

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/FIN.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
Government and ministries. https://stm.fi/en/-/uusi-mielenterveysstrategia-ryhdistaa-tulevaisuuden-mielenterveyspolitiikkaa. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Ibid.

France

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/FRA.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Germany:

Public health support: The Commonwealth Fund. Germany. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/international-health-policy-center/countries/germany. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
World Health Organisation. https://www.dzif.de/en/german-centers-health-research. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Greece

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/GRC.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Hungary

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/HUN.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Italy

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/ITA.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A
Awareness initiatives:
N/A

Iceland

Public health support: Government of Iceland. https://www.government.is/government/covid-19/q-and-a-on-measures-in-response-to-covid19/. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Ibid.
Research:
N/A

Ireland

Public health support: Government of Ireland.  Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Ibid.
Research:
Government of Ireland. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/8d2282-covid-19-rapid-response-research-case-studies/. Accessed November 2020.

Israel

Public health support: Government of Israel. https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/news/16072020_01. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Government of Israel. https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/Guides/healthy-routine?chapterIndex=2. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
N/A

Japan

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/JPN.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Korea

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/korea_who_aims_report.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives: 
N/A
Research:
N/A

Latvia

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/LVA.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Lithuania

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/LTU.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Luxembourg

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/LTU.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Research:

Mexico

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/MEX.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives: N/A
Research:
N/A

Netherlands

Public health support: Government of Netherlands. https://www.government.nl/topics/mhpss/funding-and-support-for-mental-health-and-psychosocial-support-in-crisis-situations/how-do-we-fund-mhpss-in-crisis-situations. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

New Zealand

Public health support: Minister of Health. New Zealand. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-public/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Ibid.
Research:
Minister of Health. New Zealand. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-resources-and-tools/covid-19-health-and-wellbeing-survey. Accessed November 2020.

Norway

Public health support: Commonwealth fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/international-health-policy-center/countries/norway. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Poland

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/POL.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Portugal

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/PT.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Slovak Republic

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/SVK.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Slovenia

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/SVN.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Spain

Public health support:  World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles/esp_mh_profile.pdf?ua=1. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Sweden

Public health support: Government Offices of Sweden. https://www.government.se/articles/2020/10/about-the-covid-19-virus-for-older-people-people-with-health-conditions-and-health-and-social-care-staff-25-september/. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
Ibid.
Research:
The Public Health Agency of Sweden. https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/living-conditions-and-lifestyle/mental-health/. Accessed November 2020.

Switzerland

Public health support: Commonwealth Fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/international-health-policy-center/countries/switzerland. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

Turkey

Public health support: World Health Organisation. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/TUR.pdf. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives:
N/A
Research:
N/A

United Kingdom

Public health support: Government of the United Kingdom. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/5-million-funding-given-to-mental-health-community-projects. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
ibid.
Awareness initiatives:
Government of the United Kingdom. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-mental-health-support-for-pupils-and-teachers. Accessed November 2020.

United States

Public health support: The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-safeguarding-americans-mental-health-preventing-tragedy-suicide/. Accessed November 2020.
Research:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Accessed November 2020.
Awareness initiatives: Ibid.