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How Johnson & Johnson Is Doing Its Part to Tackle the Worldwide Mental Health Epidemic
With company leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Johnson & Johnson's Chief Scientific Officer weighs in on the next great global healthcare challenge—and how we can all come together to help address it.

This week, Johnson & Johnson is excited to take part in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland—a gathering of diverse organizations and leaders focused on driving positive change in the world through public-private cooperation.

WEF is an unmatched venue for building connections with existing and potential partners, civic society, business leaders and politicians who, together, can drive the direction of future scientific research, investment and policy.

In past years, WEF has been a place for engaging the public’s attention and global action on such important public health challenges as infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic preparedness, including the launch of CEPI in 2017 and GAVI in 2000.

Today, we see an urgent need to tackle the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But there is another health issue that is rarely discussed—one that's hidden in the shadows and that can ruin lives and damage families, communities and society.

It's the growing global challenge of mental health.

Facing Down a Mental Health Epidemic
Worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people suffer from anxiety, 300 million people are touched by depression, 60 million suffer from bipolar affective disorder, about 21 million are affected by schizophrenia or other severe psychoses and nearly 50 million people have dementia. By 2050, the dementia figure alone is expected to grow to 152 million, representing a 204% increase.

Meanwhile, such challenges as lack of resources and trained healthcare providers, inaccurate assessment and social stigma compound the inability to address the mental health epidemic effectively.

While this urgent need is escalating, the science around mental health and brain diseases remains complex, and public and private funding for this research does not match the need nor the investment in other disease areas.

Despite advances in neuroscience and increased understanding of the brain and brain disorders, the current growing prevalence of mental illness—particularly in young people—and Alzheimer’s, as well as gaps in research and care, have the potential to create a global crisis.

We have an enormous opportunity to harness the advances that today’s science and technology offer to bring forward game-changing innovation in mental health prevention, treatment and care.

But there is a solution: disruptive innovation and international, open collaboration.

Science and technology offer us unprecedented opportunities in these areas. To take advantage of them, we in academia, biotech, government, regulatory, patient groups and civic society must all work together to solve some key challenges.

First is the need for an integrated research approach combining disease risk assessment, early diagnosis and disease interception with supportive treatment interventions.

Second, we need strong public-private partnerships to spur progress in such areas as better detecting at-risk individuals, and harnessing “big data” and real-world evidence to develop more innovative approaches to clinical trial design, drug development and novel regulatory pathways in the brain.

Finally, we must continue exploring innovative financing mechanisms to trigger investment. With a global funding mechanism, we can work collaboratively—across borders and disciplines—to develop a platform and comprehensive approach to reduce the time, cost and risk of developing and evaluating treatments.

We have an enormous opportunity to harness the advances that today’s science and technology offer to bring forward game-changing innovation in mental health prevention, treatment and care.

Johnson & Johnson is committed to focusing the world’s attention on this critical need, and working together with others to revolutionize the way we think about, study and approach the development of solutions so that we can change the trajectory of mental illness around the world.

Janssen Is On a Mental Health Mission
Learn more about the work Janssen—part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies—does to help people with mental illnesses.