Paying attention to ADHD at the Global Mental Health Summit

Posted On: 
10th October 2018

The Government should now renew efforts and use the Summit as a springboard to deliver on its children and young people’s mental health green paper, writes Shire's Franchise Head Neuroscience Melina Bertwistle.

This week, the first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit takes place, bringing together political figures, experts and policy-makers from around the world to support better mental health for all.

We at Shire are thrilled to see the prioritisation of this important issue and applaud the Government’s effort to work with and lead other countries to deal with the stigma attached to mental health. Hearing Matt Hancock’s commitment to putting mental and physical health on an equal footing is very encouraging for the mental health community and this week’s Summit should make an invaluable contribution to that process.

As part of this programme, we must ensure that ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders are considered a priority for discussion and action around the world. Too often misunderstood or overlooked, ADHD is estimated to affect five per cent of all children  with 2/3 displaying symptoms into adulthood . Furthermore, it is linked to myriad of other mental health conditions, with 2/3 of children with ADHD suffering from a linked psychiatric condition . ADHD is too prevalent and too life-altering to be forgotten this week.

Without diagnosis and proper treatment, ADHD can instigate a life trajectory that prevents someone from reaching their full potential. Unless the ADHD is properly managed, those with the condition typically achieve a lower standard of academic achievement than their peers, are more likely to be excluded from school and have higher rates of unauthorised absence . Moving into adulthood, individuals with ADHD are twice as likely not to take up full-time employment  and likely to display behaviours of irritability, inattention, impulsive talking and forgetfulness that may have a serious negative impact on their ability to form meaningful relationships . Sadly, there is also evidence that adults with ADHD are also up to 50% more likely to be involved in serious accidents , 8.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol  and twice as likely to be either arrested or divorced , and are four times more likely to die prematurely.

Not only does ADHD have a severe impact on the lives of the individual, there is an economic impact on the wider society too. Ahead of this week’s summit, the UK Government has rightly highlighted the impact of mental illness on lost economic output and this rings particularly true for ADHD. When looking at tax rates and social insurance contributions, a study in Germany found that people with ADHD contributed €80,000 less than their non-ADHD counterparts to lifetime net tax revenue .

Research by Demos, funded by Shire, published earlier this year, found that undiagnosed ADHD costs the UK billions every year, with lack of employment among people with ADHD the biggest cost to the taxpayer .

This week’s summit marks the latest in a string of positive moves in highlighting the importance of improved mental health care across the UK. Despite current competing political priorities, the Government should now renew efforts and use the Summit as a springboard to deliver on its children and young people’s mental health green paper.


Disclaimer: This article was produced and funded by Shire.

Job number: C-ANPROM/UK//1805 | Date of preparation: October 2018