Global Mental Health

Prioritising Mental Health as a Public Health Issue


“Mental health is a most important, maybe the most important, public health issue, which even the poorest society must afford to promote, to protect and to invest in” (WHO, 2003).

The Global Impact

Depression accounts for 4.3% of global disease burden and contributes to 11% of all years lived with disability. Over 700,000 people take their own lives each year, and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Despite the huge toll taken by mental health (MH) disorders, the area has been chronically neglected and underfunded.

Treatment Gap

The treatment gap is sizeable, with 35-50% of people with severe MH disorders untreated in high-income countries (HICs), and 76-85% untreated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan

The WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 laid out a roadmap to addressing the shortfalls in global MH. Objectives include strengthening leadership, providing quality services, implementing promotion and prevention strategies, and improving research.

Progress and Inspiration

We can look at the progress that has been made as inspiration for the future. Patel (2012) outlines four major contributions from the past century that provided the foundation for global MH.

Barriers to Overcome

Looking forward, three barriers must be overcome: stigma, failure of the MH community to engage with the global agenda, and understanding the pathophysiology and management of psychiatric disorders.


Research must be carried out in this field, and diverse alternative options should be explored, encompassing pharmacological and psychosocial, old and new, and in HICs and LMICs.


  1. World Health Organization – Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030
  2. World Health Organization – Factsheet: Suicide
  3. World Health Organization – mhGAP Intervention Guide – Version 2.0
  4. Patel V. Global mental health: from science to action. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2012;20(1):6-12. doi:10.3109/10673229.2012.649108
  5. World Health Organization. Investing in mental health: Evidence for action. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013.
  6. Scharff D, Enard KR, Tao D, Strand G, Yakubu R, Cope V. Community Health Worker Impact on Knowledge, Antenatal Care, And Birth Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Matern Child Health J. Jan 2022;26(1):79-101. doi:10.1007/s10995-021-03299-w
  7. Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, Horowitz MA. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry. Jul 20 2022;doi:10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0

Similar Posts