The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a position paper on brain health, setting out the importance of brain health optimisation throughout the life course. The paper defines brain health as the state of brain functioning across cognitive, sensory, social-emotional, behavioural and motor domains, allowing a person to realise their full potential over the life course, irrespective of the presence or absence of disorders. The paper highlights that 1 in 3 people will develop a neurological disorder at some point in their life, making neurological disorders the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death. In addition, it notes that many determinants are known to impact brain health and continuous interactions between these determinants, as well as an individual’s context, lead to lifelong adaptation of brain structure and functioning.
Specifically, the paper addresses the following determinants:
• Physical health
• Healthy environments
• Safety and security
• Learning and social connection
• Access to quality services.
The paper explains that optimising brain health leads to multiple benefits including lower rates of many chronic health conditions – neurological, mental, substance use and physical – as well as improved quality of life and multiple social and economic benefits. Furthermore, it offers practical policy solutions and future directions for the field including specific actions for addressing brain health determinants, ongoing priorities in brain health research, and operationalising and measuring brain health. The full report is available at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240054561