Jacobs Journal of Community Medicine

Mental Health : A Major Challenge for Health Authorities

Published on: 2018-11-30


The World Health Organization recently reported that mental health disorders account for a significant proportion of disability adjusted life years (DALYs), responsible for 37% of the healthy years of life lost due to chronic non-communicable diseases, with depression alone accounting for one third. WHO called for action.
Three objectives were pursued: First, identify prevalence of mental health disorders and its related costs; second and third, identify WHO recommendations and identify efficient interventions for mental disease prevention and mental health promotion.
A non-exhaustive non-systematic review of the literature via two data-basis (Medline, and Scholar Google) and several keywords (mental health, prevalence, burden of disease, health costs, prevention, health promotion, health policy recommendations) was undertaken.
Mental health disorders constitute 13% of the global burden of disease. Unipolar depressive disorders are the leading course of disability adjusted life years as well in high-income countries as in low and middle-income countries. Over 80% of people with severe mental disorders receive no treatment in low-income countries; 35 to 50% in high-income countries. By 2030 the costs of mental health disorders will exceed 6 trillion US $, doubling from current costs. Research shows that effective and efficient mental disease prevention and mental health promotion interventions exist and should get more attention from the health authorities. Given the gravity of the situation the 66th World Health Assembly adopted the 2013-2020 Action Plan for Mental Health setting four broad objectives, which are in line with the proposal of an international consortium of researchers.
Given the public health importance of mental health problems and their economic impact, given also the awareness of health authorities the importance that mental health issues should be addressed, one should remember that many effective and efficient health promoting interventions regarding mental health exist.


Mental Health; Burden Of Disease; Health Costs; Prevention; Health Promotion; Health Policy Recommendations