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Am J Public Health. 1999 September; 89(9): 1315–1318.
PMCID: PMC1508755

The global burden of mental disorders.

Abstract

Recent data on the burden of mental disorders worldwide demonstrates a major public health problem that affects patients, society, and nations as a whole. Research must be done to find effective ways to deal with the increasing burden of mental disorders. Given the growing evidence that mental disorders are disorders of the brain and that they can be treated effectively with both psychosocial counseling and psychotropic medications, intervention packages could be developed to deal with the increasing burden. Such packages should be tested for real-world effectiveness and their cost-effectiveness should be demonstrated to guide policymakers to choose from among many other non-mental health interventions. The transportability and sustainability of intervention packages should be studied in public health research and a link between efficacy, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, generalizability, and sustainability should be demonstrated. The World Health Organization's initiative on the World Mental Health 2000 Survey will provide the first basic epidemiologic data. Together with other data, the initiative will provide solid evidence for including mental disorders into essential treatment packages. In this way, parity can be achieved for mental disorders and mental health can be mainstreamed into health and public health practice.

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