Expert Group Meeting on Mental Well-being, Disability and Development

  • DATE / TIME:
    2013•04•29 - 2013•05•01
    Kuala Lumpur

    The United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in close collaboration with the University of Tokyo organized an “Expert Group Meeting on Mental Well-being, Disability and Development” from 29 April to 1 May 2013.

    Globally, an estimated one in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. Annually, approximately one million people die due to suicide which is higher than the number of death related to war or murder. Among young people, suicide is the third leading cause.

    Depression is the largest single cause of disability worldwide (11 per cent of all years lived with disability globally). Economic loss due to problems related to mental well-being is vast.

    A recent study estimated that the cumulative global impact of mental disorders in terms of lost economic output will amount to US$16.3 trillion between 2011 and 2030, while reasonable investment in mental well-being can contribute to better mental well-being. Additionally, there are strong stigma and discriminations against persons with mental and intellectual disabilities. In particular in disaster settings, protection of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities is often neglected and not recognized.

    As emphasized by the General Assembly, the genuine achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals requires the inclusion of the rights, well-being, and the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at all levels. The economic, social and health impact of poor mental well-being is pervasive and far reaching, leading to poverty, high unemployment rates, poor educational and health outcome.

    Mental well-being represents a critical indicator and a key determinant of well-being, quality of life, hope, and sustainable development. However, despite this close link between mental well-being and disability with development, the mental aspects have long been neglected in development discourse. Successful and sustainable development policies and programmes require a renewed prioritization of mental well-being and disability.

    The General Assembly will hold a High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) with the overarching theme “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond” on 23 September 2013.

    The expert meeting provided a critical opportunity to bring global attention to the situation persons with mental and intellectual disabilities, that constitutes one of the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups of the population and to date remain invisible in mainstream development processes. For more information, please contact Dr Atsuro Tsutsumi at