Our 2022 Wellbeing Forum was held during two auspicious global occasions: World Mental Health Day, as well as the annual IMF/World Bank Meetings. As we reconvened in person again after two and a half years, we looked to this auspicious day as an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health.
For those delegates that have attended our global summits before, you know we gather to talk not just about the world today but also about the world in 2050—which is the name of our futuristic do-tank and think tank.
And the future is such an intriguing space to start our discussions. We are not fortune tellers. We look to the past and present in order to help the future arrive well, which is our motto.
As you know, healthcare is massively broken and entrepreneurs are finding new ways every day to make us the CEO of our own health. We are on the cusp of witnessing some of the biggest breakthroughs humanity has ever seen.
But there is more to health than the absence of disease. Some call it happiness. Others call it wellbeing. And others call it quality of life.
And we fundamentally agree: everyone wants to be happy. But what we have not figured out yet is how we should do it with policy, education, and community investment. When the discussion goes there, the question becomes: who will pay for all this innovation?
But even beyond innovation, this discussion centers on our elevated sense of purpose in life. Psychologists have found that people who have this tend to live longer and experience less physical illness.
While our healthcare has focused thus far on intervening before a disease is developed or trying to prevent progression of a disease when people are already sick—early prevention looks at inhibiting the risk factors in the first place.
And the best place to start is figuring out what allows people to attain and maintain health in the long term. Is it nutrition? Is it tech and innovation? Is it policy?
On World Mental Health Day, the World Health Organization and its global partners launched a campaign around the theme of “Making Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority.”
This is an incredibly important moment in time not just for individuals and organizations to be vocal and come together, but for leaders of nations to prioritize the wellbeing of their citizens—to put wellbeing and mental health at the very top of multilateral agendas, the way defense budgets and GDP and economics occupy leaders’ minds.
It goes without saying, the COVID-19 pandemic created a global crisis for mental health. The WHO estimates the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic.
At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened. Add to that lingering conflicts, growing social and economic inequalities, and displacement from natural disasters and we have a perfect storm.
Sounds daunting? We hope the discussions and presentations from our forum, as distilled expertly here by our team, will lead the way to more collaboration and partnership and lead us into a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the health care they need. Thank you for being a part of this year’s Wellbeing Forum. We look forward to learning and creating together.