As the COVID-19 pandemic upends the lives of young people around the world, a long-simmering mental health crisis threatens to boil over. Demand for mental health care is skyrocketing, and yet support services have been significantly curtailed. We can make sure young people everywhere can access the mental health care they need when we #UniteforHealth.

Before COVID-19, roughly 1 in 5 adolescents worldwide was already living with mental health conditions and suicide was the third leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 19.

COVID-19 has only compounded the problem. It’s not hard to understand why. Millions of young people can’t access school. Jobs are hard to come by, and financial security is harder still. Social and community bonds are wildly disrupted. Alcohol and drug use are up, along with anxiety and depression.

Even prior to the pandemic, mental health was woefully underfunded. On average, at the national level, countries dedicate just 2% of their health budgets to mental health. That’s simply not enough. In addition to the moral imperative, there’s an economic case for mental health investment. Anxiety and depression alone cost the global economy U.S. $1 trillion every year, but every dollar invested generates five in return.

Scaling up mental health services to meet current needs will take a combination of political will and increased investment at both the global and national levels. But to implement long-lasting systemic change, the provision of mental health services needs to be fundamentally re-evaluated.

Read the full article about mental health crisis by Kate Dodson at the United Nations Foundation.