How You Doing Out There?
Every day I check where in the world my readers are from. I don’t know why. Maybe I take comfort knowing we are not alone in regards to mental illness. It’s not often I willingly do math, but I twisted my own arm for the basis of this post. Here is a two-week average, from highest to lowest of the top twenty-five countries my readers come from:
United Arab Emirates
It’s no surprise that most of my visitors are from the U.S., the UK and Canada. Some of the others I do find surprising, or at least interesting. For example, I have never heard of Mauritius. I checked, so you don’t have to look it up. It’s an Island country in the Indian Ocean. Their population is 1.3 million people, so I’m kind of embarrassed I’ve never heard of it. You should check their website. It looks like a nice place.
Looking over the list makes me wonder about mental health care around the world. There’s lots to complain about regarding the mental health system in the U.S. My friends in the U.K. and Canada aren’t thrilled with their systems either, but stress that at least they won’t be turned away because of the inability to pay.
Not Much To Go On
The World Health Organization defines mental health as:
a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential and can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
That’s a pretty tall order. I had hoped to write a post comparing mental health throughout the world, but there isn’t much out there. Other than a report on suicide rates, even the World Health Organization did not have much to provide. An article in the Washington Post on depression rates around the world explains why there is so little global data:
… researchers didn’t go out and test everyone for clinical depression; rather, they used preexisting data. That means we’re not looking at rates of clinical depression, exactly, so much as the rate at which people are diagnosed with clinical depression. People who live in countries with greater awareness of and easier access to mental health services, then, are naturally going to be diagnosed at a higher rate. That may help explain the unusually low rate in Iraq, for example, where public health services are poor. Taboos against mental health disorders may also drive down diagnosis rates, for example in East Asia, artificially lowering the study’s measure of clinical depression’s prevalence in that region. The paper further cautions that reliable depression surveys don’t even exist for some low-income countries — a common issue with global studies — forcing the researchers to come up with their own estimates based on statistical regression models
In other words, the reports are useless. I mean if the Washington Post has to put a disclaimer on their article, why should I even bother? Therefore, I stopped looking for reports comparing mental health across the globe.
The only report I feel comfortable showing is a list by the World Health Organization of suicide rates across the globe. Even that is suspect, but it has few disclaimers on it. Here are the five countries, from my list of readers, who have the highest number of suicides per 100,000 people:
Here are the five countries, from my list of readers, with the lowest number of suicides per 100,000 people:
South Africa 1.0
What Does All This Mean?
As you can see, from the big three, the only one that made the cut is the United Kingdom. Fortunately for them, they are on the low side. The United States scored at 10.3 and Canada at 10.1 I have no idea why they are so much higher than the U.K. In fact, I don’t know if you can glean any conclusions off of any of this.
As I said, I had hoped to have more information to pass on, and provide an excellent synopsis. Instead I am more frustrated and feel more isolated from so many of you. At the end of each day I look and wonder what’s going on with all of you in Russia, and Spain and even you folks in little Maturates. I guess I’ll never know. I just hope you all will be okay out there.