The Interconnectedness of Mental Health and Sustainable Development: Illness or Prevention model




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Unique Conferences Canada Publication. Toronto, Canada



Peer reviewed


Wait until people are ill, then treat. Or prevent ill health before it happens. These are two ends of a spectrum, those working health care have argued about for years. This is a fundamental challenge for global health. The illness then treat approach has dominated, certainly Western health care. It is the approach most often championed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations (UN), associated organisations and Governments. But is it what we should be continuing to do? Is it the global universal health model it has been made out to be? This paper explores whether the illness model is sustainable (and affordable) for health care. We have all probably heard the phrase 'prevention is better than cure', the phrase attributed to the philosopher Erasmus in the 16th Century. It is often cited as a central principle of modern health care. If that is the case, why is western health care, disease/illness driven? Why have hospitals, their specialisms and spiralling costs been the focus and prevention the poor relation? Can global health care remain sustainable and affordable? Given the massively rising costs of medical care and medicines. Given the evidence that major events such as Covid-19 had a massive impact on the global economy. Given Climate Change is and will continue to significantly cause further disease, illness and ill health. Is it now time (or even too late) to make a change? A change that means we are less dependent on expensive treatments and an illness model. This paper looks at this through a mental health perspective.



Mental Health, Sustainable Development Goals, wellness/illness


Illingworth, P. (2023) The Interconnectedness of Mental Health and Sustainable Development: Illness or Prevention model. Keynote Address. 8th International Global Public Health Conference. Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia. (PowerPoint).


Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Research Institute

Mary Seacole Research Centre