World mental health data skewed29th January 2008
There are 450 million people around the world living with mental health problems, but as many as 85% of them are not receiving the treatment they need.
Mental health is not top of the policy agenda in many developing countries, which struggle with social stigma, and with funding and logistics for mental health services.
Some of the world's poorer countries spend just 1% of their entire health budget on mental health, which is inadequate to provide services, treatment and to fund research, according to a recent series in The Lancet.
Less than 1% of research into the treatment and prevention of specific mental health disorders related to developing countries, which are home to 60% of the world's population.
Mental illness is the target of stigma, and frequently leads to a poor quality of life. It can even have an impact on the country's development.
And low-income countries have less than 1% of global research capacity into these problems.
When asked what they see as priorities, researchers in developing countries usually rank highest studies into the numbers of mentally ill people and the causes of their diseases.
Denise Razzouk, of the Department of Psychiatry at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, said studies on the burden and causes of mental health disorders have increased in recent years, but that they are still inadequate.
More studies were needed that provided scientific evidence about the effectiveness of different mental health interventions in specific local contexts, she said.
Psychiatrists in Sri Lanka treat patients in accordance with British guidelines, because they have no guidelines of their own.
Many mental health professionals highlight the relative importance of family-based care in developing countries.
The same treatment regime does not work in different countries. For example, a trial of group psychotherapy has been shown to help people recover from depression in Uganda, the antidepressant fluoxetine helped people with depression in India, and a combined programme of group therapy and antidepressants was successful in Chile.
Researchers in China found that earlier first-generation antipsychotic drugs were effective against first-episode schizophrenia, along with patient and family education programmes and counselling for patients re-entering the community.
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Title: World mental health data skewed
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 5483
Date Added: 29th Jan 2008