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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid