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Prioritise mental health at government level to achieve happiness

13 February 2017


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Governments around the world need to prioritise the combat of mental health issues, given that happiness indexes indicate most people generally desire good health to be happy – particularly mental health.

Governments around the world need to prioritise the combat of mental health issues, given that happiness indexes indicate most people generally desire good health to be happy – particularly mental health.

This sentiment was expressed by the Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, Sir Richard Layard, during a panel discussion about the future of happiness, on Day One of the World Government Summit 2017.

“On average, one in six adults are suffering from depression and other forms of mental disabilities, yet there is no country in the world where at least one-third of these people are in treatment,” he said. “While research shows that most people who are unhappy have been diagnosed with mental health disorders.”

Advocating the notion that happiness comes largely from within, Sir Layard added it is how people react to what happens to them in their external environment that contributes to their inner happiness. 

“Although supporting the wellbeing of people is a duty of governments, it is not just about politics, but also about how we live our own lives, and how we contribute happiness to the world.” 

Meanwhile, professor John Helliwell, Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Co-Director of the CIFAR Programme on Social Interactions, Identity and Wellbeing, added that an individual’s happiness is based on proximity – with 90 percent of a person’s immediate interactions influencing their sense of wellbeing.

“People have a level of control in their own happiness because they control the framework within which they live,” he said. “So, if you want to feel better about things, start by turning your next elevator ride into a social event waiting to happen, rather than a prison sentence.”

For the young people in the world searching for their purpose, Sir Layard added, “you are here to contribute happiness to the world.”