Mental health in developing countries
We cannot afford to ignore the burden of mental disease, argue Justin Loke and Vikram Patel
- By: Justin Loke, Vikram Patel
Mental health is under-represented in global health and development. It is neglected in preference to diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria. Have you heard the singer Bono or Bill Clinton talk about mental disorders? Is this because we are only too willing to ignore mental disorder even when they are in our own backyard? Only half of European countries have a clear national mental health programme, and more than half of people affected by mental disorders do not receive treatment.
The reason for the neglect of mental health certainly isn't because mental disorders are unimportant: neuropsychiatric conditions represent 12.3% of the global burden of disease and 31% of all years lived with disability.1 Even in the poorest countries of the world, mental disorders account for almost 10% of the total burden of disease. The global burden of mental disorders is projected to rise to 15% by 2020.