How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals: Healthy lives and well-being (SDG 3)

A drive to reduce suicide mortality rates is a key indicator of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Psychiatrist Shekhar Saxena, who led the World Health Organization’s mental health and substance abuse program after working in clinical practice for more than two decades, says that although progress is being made, a worryingly high number of young people are choosing to end their lives.

“They have to struggle through the school education, competitive examinations, then they have to struggle for a job,” says Saxena, who now teaches at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “And many young people decide that dying is easier than struggling through for many years, which is very sad. It reflects the society that we live in where a young person does not feel that life is worth living.”

In the third episode How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals podcast series, Saxena welcomes the inclusion of mental health in SDG 3 and its aim to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. But he points out that countries on average spend less than 2% of their health budget on mental health, when the disease burden is around 10%.

Each episode in the series features researchers whose work addresses one or more the targets. The first six episodes are produced in partnership with Nature Food, and introduced by Juliana Gil, its chief editor.