Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, obsessive compulsive disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and learning deficits), personality and food behaviour disorders, and addictions. These are some of the mental health problems that will be at the centre of the 30th edition of La Marató de TV3 and Cataluña Radio on 19 December.
The experts point out that there is a wide variety of mental disorders and every one of them manifests itself differently. They say that in the majority of cases, the causes that influence their appearance, evolution and prognosis are not completely clear. However, it has been shown that a number of genetic factors are involved that can interact with an unfavourable or stressful environment. These influences alter the brain mechanisms that regulate the mental processes that make it possible to lead a healthy, satisfactory and independent life.
According to recent data for incidence and prevalence, the experts agree that one in four adults will have a mental health problem at some time in their life. It is thought that 50% of these disorders appear before the age of 18 years, but often they are not diagnosed until years later, in adulthood. They explain that not diagnosing the neurodevelopment problems that affect between 20% and 25% of the population, such as ADHD and other mental health problems in childhood could lead to severe or very severe problems throughout life. Life expectancy is also reduced in people with a mental disorder. Among teenagers and young adults, suicide is one of the leading causes of death, resulting in general from a mental health problem with most resulting from depression.
There are estimated to be a billion people worldwide who present some mental problem. So, these are very common health problems that represent a very high personal, family and social burden, taking into account the years of worry, suffering and low quality of life of the people and families that are affected as well as the high costs in social health that they generate both directly and indirectly.
The research priorities in the field of mental health that will be boosted by the funds raised in La Marató 2021 will be aimed at identifying the factors that originate mental disorders from childhood to old age, to attaining new tools for prevention, early detection and diagnostic precision, to finding effective therapeutic targets that will advance towards curative treatments, and to fostering epidemiological studies in large population groups, among other research lines. Up to now research has taken great steps forwards in fields such as neuroscience, and particularly epigenetics, neuroimaging, psychology and artificial intelligence.
This will be the third time that La Marató has dealt with mental health. It must be remembered that due to the exceptional situation caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020, the Board of the Foundation decided to dedicate that year's La Marató to Covid- 19 and to postpone the mental health edition to 2021.
For the Vice-President of the Catalan Media Corporation and of the Board of the Fundación La Marató de TV3, Núria Llorach, "awareness-raising and research in mental health are always essential, but after more than a year of pandemic, we are convinced that this Marató is now more necessary than ever and that is what we are told by the experts, who have observed the great impact of the pandemic in this area of health, especially in young people."