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Lars Leppin Janssen Leadership Blog Post

All for parity in mental health

What do you know about mental health conditions? Is it something you have read about, something you have been told about or something you have experienced yourself?

I strongly believe that unless one has first-hand experience with a mental health condition, by either experiencing one personally or knowing someone who has, then it is difficult to identify when information is biased, a misrepresentation - or simply incorrect.

A report recently published in The Lancet Commission discusses how stigma and discrimination can affect people living with a mental health condition. Around 90% of people with mental health conditions say they are impacted by stigma:[1] this can be just as harmful as the disorder itself,[1] and a factor in why some people with mental health conditions do not seek help.[2]

Mental health is a serious topic, even more so in the post-pandemic world, and I am a strong believer that we all need to encourage mental health to be prioritised, in parity, with physical wellbeing. The statistics speak for themselves; around 40 million people in Europe live with depression[3], with mental and physical health so intertwined that severe mental health conditions can reduce life expectancy by 10-20 years.[4] I have witnessed how mental health can have a significant impact on every aspect of a person’s life, from work to relationships and education.[5],[6],[7]

It’s in the power of you and me

The Lancet article rightly notes, together we must put the concerns, which includes the passions, priorities and preferences of every individual person with lived experiences of mental health at the heart of our thinking. Too often, these people are left out of decisions that directly affect them: but in healthcare, they must be front and centre, always. The publication also proves an excellent example of how involving patients and their caregivers in analyses such as these, and creating goals directly tied to this topic, is the best way to ensure mental health care continues to improve in the future.

These recommendations not only extend to all of society – and what employers, governments, and healthcare practitioners can do together to address these issues – but also to the different types of discrimination faced by people with mental health concerns, whether that is internal, external, or structural stigma.

In the ‘now’

Where is urgent action needed? It’s simple: across all parties with any involvement in mental health care, we must ensure there is a collective agreement that it is prioritised as much as physical well-being. Investment remains low, with around 2% of government health budgets across Europe being spent on mental healthcare in 2017.[8] We need more investment to foster better conversations, communication, and resources for mental health treatment and understanding, to take better care of people and improve their outcomes.

I’m particularly proud to be a part of a company that continuously pursues new ventures in research and development, while fostering meaningful dialogue with patients and caregivers. Through this, we have created practical tools, as seen in our Breaking Depression campaign, to empower people to better understand and engage in conversations whilst navigating personal experiences. There is certainly much more to be done!

My personal pledge is to work with all parties with an interest in mental health care, to continue breaking down biases and working towards parity!

Artwork credit: Sebastian Ferreira, Untitled Artwork from the National Art Exhibitions of the Mentally Ill, Inc (NAEMI)

[1] Mental Health Foundation. Stigma and discrimination. Available at: Last accessed: March 2023

[2] Clement S, Schauman O, et al. What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological Medicine 2015;45(1):11–27.

[3] World Health Organization. Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders Global Health Estimates, Geneva. 2017. Available at: Last accessed: March 2023

[4] Liu N, et al. Excess mortality in persons with severe mental disorders: a multilevel intervention framework and priorities for clinical practice, policy and research agendas. World Psychiatry. Vol 16:1; p.30-40.

[5] Target Depression in the workplace in Europe: A report featuring new insights from business leaders. 2019. Available at: Last accessed: March 2023

[6] Lasalvia A, et al. Global pattern of experienced and anticipated discrimination reported by people with major depressive disorder; a cross sectional survey. Lancet 2013; 381: p.55-62.

[7] Leka S, et al. Mental health in the workplace in Europe. EU Compass for action and mental health and wellbeing. 2017. Available at: Last accessed: March 2023

[8] Mental Health Atlas 2020. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. Available at: Last accessed: March 2023