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It’s Time to Prioritize Brain Health. Here’s Why.

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Kana Enomoto, Director of Brain Health, McKinsey Health Institute

Far too often, began Kana Enomoto, Director of Brain Health at the McKinsey Health Institute, mental health conditions go unrecognized, unspoken, and untreated. The problem is getting worse with time because there are insufficient services to address poor mental health and inadequate knowledge about what works for whom. 

There is a quantifiable cost to untreated mental health, Enomoto continued, of approximately $6 trillion lost in the global economy. About 10% of the global burden of disease is from mental health and neurological conditions and more than 2% of the country’s health budgets go to addressing mental health. However, Enomoto noted, the cost goes far beyond the financial: those who suffer from mental health challenges face a life expectancy 10-25 years less than their peers.

The vast majority of employers are spending more each year, but their efforts are still not enough. To that end, McKinsey has partnered with the Healthy Brains Global initiative (HBGI). HBGI’s approach rests on three core principles: new science, new finance, and new voices. We must act early and treat these conditions with the urgency that we treat physical ailments. When we prioritize brain health, Enomoto concluded, everyone can benefit, not only those receiving treatment.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • The cost of poor mental health to individuals, businesses, and nations is unsustainable. However, we have not yet sufficiently addressed the crisis.
  • Prioritizing brain health can have widespread benefits, not only to those receiving treatment.

“Conventional thinking bakes in our negative social attitudes. It reifies the stigma that we place against these conditions.”


Kana Enomoto, Director of Brain Health, McKinsey Health Institute