Leaders are often in a position to see and facilitate great changes, for the betterment of society in general. The time for the neuroleader is now, and the time to rise up and demand action has come. Like a Pandora’s box about to open, brain health is already affecting our way of life dramatically, and we can either continue to hurtle down a path of destruction or we can make changes now, developing brain-friendly leadership methods to bring hope for the future.

Most leaders try not to make decisions without having as much pertinent information as possible, especially when new policies may cost money up front. If brain health isn’t on your radar yet as an issue of the utmost importance, please start with this article here, which is the beginning of this blog series, or check out the related articles at the end of this post.

If you believe brain health is an urgent issue that demands attention now, keep reading! Although it may seem like common sense to implement brain-friendly methods, the science is clear and you can use this to help promote change.

No other health condition in humankind has been neglected as much as mental health has. 

Vikram Patel, professor at Harvard Medical School1

Follow The Science - Follow The Numbers

Why are we so reluctant to treat our brains with respect? Medical care is seriously lagging in this area, and people are suffering and dying as a result. 

Taking a look around the world, we see:


  • 1 in 5 Australians between 16 - 85 experience brain illnesses each year. 
  • Anxiety affects about 14% of Australians.
  • Depression affects around 6% of Australians, and 1 in 7 will experience depression at some point in their lives.
  • 54% of Australians who are suffering do not access treatment options.
  • 6 people die from suicide each day, and another 30 people make a suicide attempt. 
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in the 25 - 44 age group and the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 - 24.


  • 165 million Europeans, or around 38%, suffer from brain disorders in any given year.
  • Only about a 1/3 of patients get the therapy or medication they need.
  • 61.5 million people in Europe are affected by anxiety and around 30 million are affected by depression.
  • In the WHO European Region, 128,000 people commit suicide each year, and 3 out 4 people who suffer from depression do not get adequate treatment.4
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in children ages 10 - 19 in low and middle-income European countries.5


  • 1 in 5 adults (46.6 million Americans) experience a brain illness or disorder every year.
  • 18.1% of the adult population have an anxiety disorder.
  • Nearly 7%, or 16 million people, suffer from a major depressive episode in any given year.
  • Of Americans living with a brain condition, only 41% received mental health services in the previous year.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States and the 2nd cause of death for people 10 - 34 years old. 
  • Over 90% of people who commit suicide show evidence or symptoms of some brain disorder.


  • Brain illnesses or disorders affect between 11.6 and 20.1% of the population each year, with a lifetime prevalence as high as 39.1%.
  • An estimated 5% of the population suffers from depression, but most do not seek or receive any treatment.8
  • Brain health resources are scarce, with fewer psychiatrists, psychologists and brain health nurses than Europe or the United States.9
  • Around 11,000 people in Brazil commit suicide each year, 44.8% being young (between 10 - 19 years old) indigenous people.10
  • Between 25-45% of people who received treatment for physical problems in Trinidad and Tobago also showed symptoms of depression. Suicide rates here are amongst the highest in the Caribbean.11


  • 4.2% or 54 million Chinese people experienced depression in 2017.
  • 173 million people were estimated to have a brain disorder, but only 15 million sought and received treatment.
  • Over 90% of licensed psychological professionals in China were not employed in the industry, despite estimations that over 400,000 more counsellors will be needed.
  • There is a stigma associated with mental health disorders, which prevents many from seeking treatment.
  • A single counselling session can cost between $47-$110 (US), which is considered high for many Chinese people.

And Then Follow The Money

Even though organisations and leaders should have the wellbeing of their employees as a priority, the grim reality is that this isn’t always true. Appealing for change on the basis of human compassion should be enough, but if not, the monetary effects of ignoring brain health can cost a company exorbitant amounts of money.

The Lancet Commission estimates brain health disorders will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. An estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year due to mental illness. Because brain health is typically underfunded and even neglected, more people will continue to suffer.13

We can only ensure our governments address the growing brain health problems if we are vocal. However, each organisation can take a hand in the mental health of their own employees to fill in this gap until the world health systems (hopefully) catch up. 

Over 80% of employees who are treated for brain illnesses report higher levels of satisfaction at work. 

When people have options for mental care, the results typically include reduced medical costs, increased productivity, and decreased absenteeism. Investing in brain health is good for the people we work with and for the bottom line.14 

The Future Of Brain Health Is Now

In this article series, we have explored depression and anxiety, factors that can contribute to mental health disorders, and things we can do to alleviate and mitigate symptoms and treat the underlying conditions. As leaders, each of us has the capability to induce change. Consider using your platform to introduce or boost brain health awareness in your organisation. Share these articles, create awareness and help start a discussion.

Check out the rest of the articles in this series here: 

If we don’t make changes, we will continue on the path of destruction. Lost wages, lost productivity, and lost lives can be prevented. Neuroleaders (and anyone who advocates for brain health) can help create a better world, one where brain conditions receive ample attention and resources.

Learn more about the i4 Neuroleader Methodology to increase health and wellbeing while also increasing innovation, creativity, and productivity. Will you be a part of this change?


  1. Kelland K. Mental Health Crisis Could Cost the World $16 Trillion by 2030. Reuters. 2018. Available here.
  2. Black Dog Institute. Facts & Figures About Mental Health. Black Dog Institute. No Date. Available here.
  3. Wittchen HU, et al. The Size and Burden of Mental Disorders and Other Disorders of the Brain in Europe in 2010. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2011;21(9):655-79. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.07.018.
  4. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Depression and Suicide. WHO. 2019. Available here.
  5. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Adolescent Mental Health in the European Region. WHO. 2018. Available here.
  6. National Alliance on Mental Health. Mental Health By The Numbers. NAMI. 2019. Available here.
  7. Minoletti A, Galea S, Susser E. Community Mental Health Services in Latin American for People with Severe Mental Disorders. Public Health Reviews. 2012;34: epub ahead of print.
  8. Cruz A. Poor Mental Health, An Obstacle to Development in Latin America. World Bank Group. 2015. Available here.
  9. Alarcón RD. Mental health and mental health care in Latin America. World Psychiatry. 2003;2(1):54–56.
  10. Verdélio A. Some 11 Thousand Brazilians Commit Suicide Every Year. EBC. 2017. Available here.
  11. Abel WD, Baboolal N, Gibson RC. The Epidemiology of Mental Health Issues in the Caribbean. Pan American Health Organization. 2015. Available here.
  12. Lin IS. The Mental Healthcare Industry in China. China Briefing. 2018. Available here.
  13. From the Carter Center. Mental Illness Will Cost the World $16 USD Trillion by 2030. Psychiatric Times. 2018. Available here.
  14. American Psychiatric Association. Investing in a Mentally Healthy Workforce is Good For Business. Center for Workplace Mental Health, American Psychiatric Foundation. 2019. Available here.
Originally posted on: 26 August 2020
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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