Giving Compass' Take:

• In an interview with Devex, Dr. Julian Eaton, the senior health advisor for Christian Blind Mission International Australia, discusses the importance of addressing mental health needs from a development perspective. In some countries, unemployment among the mentally ill is close to 100 percent.

• Aid organizations aren't addressing the problem of mental health adequately, since Dr. Eaton says less than 1 percent of health budgets in sub-Saharan Africa are devoted to the issue. As donors, it's imperative to make sure that trend in funding is reversed and that the stigma of mental illness is removed.

• For more evidence on the importance of this topic, here's how mental fitness affects education outcomes.

Under the Millennium Development Goals, mental health was overlooked. But under the Sustainable Development Goals, goals for health include well-being. For advocates of better mental health support systems in developing countries, the goals are opening the door to build awareness on the diverse needs of people with mental health and the discrimination they face.

But despite changes, it is still progressing slowly — and in development assistance, mental health remains a low priority. Dr. Julian Eaton, the senior mental health adviser for CBM, spoke to Devex.

Of people with disability, people with psychosocial disability are the poorest and the most unemployed in high income countries. The rates of unemployment among people with mental illness are almost 100 percent in many countries.


In low-income countries, the evidence isn’t so strong, but in a context with people with a more severe mental illness not being treated, it is very difficult to work anyway and people don’t trust you to work. They don’t give you work in the most rural places because you are thought to be possessed or contagious.


It’s partly the social justice issue of not employing people with a disability, but also it is not good for development. If 1 in 4 people in their lifetime have a mental health problem and if that is not dealt with properly, quickly, effectively, then it is likely to even affect their family’s income catastrophically. And it will also impact the capacity of a country’s economy to grow.

Read the full interview about mental health by Lisa Cornish at Devex.