This week I was enjoying an extraordinary view of snow-capped Swiss Alps on the train to Davos when I couldn’t help overhearing a conversation between two British people sitting nearby. They were not talking about Brexit, as one might have expected, given the current crisis in their country.
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If you thought that world leaders in politics and business attending Davos were only interested in economics, finance and geopolitics, think again. This year mental health is set to be one of the most discussed topics at the WEF conference.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million individuals across the world are currently suffering from some form of depression, with many of them also exhibiting symptoms of anxiety.
Tomorrow I will be attending a lunch, organised by the US healthcare firm Kaiser Permanente each year in Davos, to promote multi-stakeholder efforts on mental health. Its focus this year will be mental health inequities, a topic that the company’s chairman and chief executive Bernard Tyson addressed earlier this week in an interesting article.
In the column, he called for a reduction in not only the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace but also in mental health inequity, which is frequently ignored. As he wrote: “This is often a problem in lower-income communities, where populations may be at greater risk of pathology and often face the highest obstacles to getting care, in part owing to a lack of the specialised resources available in wealthier areas.”
I will also be attending an event organised by the pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson, whose chief science officer Paul Stoffels suggests prioritising reducing the time, cost and risk of developing and evaluating treatments. New public-private partnerships on brain sciences to harness big data and real-world evidence must also be developed, he says.
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