WGS 2019: Mental health issues can be prevented from becoming the next global health epidemic

DUBAI, The 7th World Government Summit (WGS 2019) today featured a special session examining the risk of mental health issues becoming the next major global health epidemic. Hosted by Becky Anderson of CNN, an eminent panel came together under the theme ‘Mitigating the Risk of the Next Global Epidemic’ to initiate a lively debate on an increasingly important issue.

Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global, said: “Based on personal experience, I realized that mental health problems were a global epidemic. There are multiple points of intervention through which effective treatment can benefit families as well as individuals. Stress and burnout need to be addressed, for instance, by empowering young women to overcome comparison pressures. Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned and used to help us cope with the pressures in our lives.

“We can all take ‘micro-steps’ to deal with stress and transform our daily lives. One useful technique for all of us is to declare an end to our working days. We should also take one minute in the morning to remember what we should be grateful for and set a target for the day. With the UAE leading the way in having a Minister of Happiness, we need to develop the soft skills of emotion and empathy,” she said.

Dr Mehmet Oz, New York-based host of the Dr Oz Show, said: “A major recent global study has addressed the question ‘How old is your body?’ The findings suggested that stress can reduce the life expectancy of a typical person by up to six years. It is a fact that life expectancy in the US is actually dropping.

“Unemployment can lead to inactivity and addictions. In addition, loneliness is a condition that also needs to be addressed. Severe displacement effects can be seen in refugees. Also, divorce is a factor in causing stress and depression, and people generally feel the quality of modern life has deteriorated. Nevertheless, I am confident that humans have adapted and thrived and will continue to do so,” he said.

Professor David Clark, Professor and Chair of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in the UK, said: “Social media and different work patterns contribute to stress. Better psychological treatment can make people more productive. For example, the UK is introducing psychological treatment programs targeted at the workforce: seven in 10 people who have undergone these treatments show improvements, and five out of 10 recover completely, with the result that they become happier and more productive.

“Societies need to measure the outcomes of psychological therapy. Regarding the prospects of mental health issues becoming a global epidemic, the solutions are available. They just need to be implemented.”

The three-day World Government Summit 2019 runs until February 12 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organizations.

Source: Emirates News Agency