News / Health

WHO: Treatment for Mental Health Inadequate and Under-funded

A researcher holds a human brain (file photo)
A researcher holds a human brain (file photo)
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization is calling on governments to increase services for people suffering from mental, neurological and substance use disorders. A report released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10, finds countries all over the world spend very little on the treatment of mental illness.

The World Health Organization’s “Mental Health Atlas 2011” surveys 184 countries. It finds one in four people will require mental health care at some point in their lives. Yet, globally, less than $3 per capita per year is spent on mental health. And, in poor countries, that figure is as low as 25 cents.  

In addition to the problem of under-investment, WHO’s director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Shekhar Saxena, says low and middle-income countries have very few mental health professionals.

“To give you some examples, there are countries in Africa, which have a population of nine million, having only one psychiatrist and, in Asia, countries having 29 million people with only two psychiatrists. This is obviously extremely inadequate to look after any mental health needs in the country. The difference between the number of psychiatrists per 100,000 population in low-income countries versus high-income countries is 150-fold, which is enormous,” said Saxena.  

WHO reports the majority of people in the world do not receive treatment for mental illness. Figures show up to 50 percent of people suffering from mental disorders in Europe and North America do not receive treatment, and up to 85 percent of people in developing countries do not receive treatment.  

The report says governments spend most of the money designated for mental health on long-term care at psychiatric hospitals. It says today, nearly 70 percent of mental health spending goes to mental institutions.  

Dr. Saxena tells VOA this is a very inefficient use of scarce resources. He says the money would be better spent in treating mental illness at the primary care level rather than in expensive hospital care, which serves relatively few people.

“We believe that training primary care providers, general doctors, general nurses, medical assistants as well as health workers will be the right way to go. And, the program assists countries to provide training to these professionals and equip them with the knowledge and skills to identify and treat the majority of these problems. Obviously, they cannot treat all the problems. There is a system of referral by which the specialists can see fewer patients, but much of the burden can be handled by the primary care,” said Saxena.  

WHO's Mental Health Atlas provides information on depression - the leading cause of disability worldwide, on psychotic conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disease, and on neurological disorders such as epilepsy and dementia.

The survey finds people with mental illness and their families are victims of human rights abuses, discrimination and stigmatization. And this, the study says, often discourages people with these conditions from seeking help.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid