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Global Study Identifies Top Mental Health Challenges

Illustration of brain (NIDA)

(National Institute of Drug Abuse)

A large-scale study conducted worldwide has identified the top global challenges in mental health. A report of the study appears in the current issue of the journal Nature (paid subscription required).

The Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health Initiative, led by the National Institutes of Health and the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, identified the top 40 barriers to better mental health around the world. Similar to past grand challenges, which focused on infectious diseases and chronic, noncommunicable diseases, this initiative seeks to build a community of funders supporting research that improves the lives of people living with mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders within the next 10 years.

The study took 18 months to complete, having begun in early 2010. Pamela Collins of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) — part of NIH — and colleagues assembled an international panel of experts to identify research priorities using the Delphi method, a widely-used consensus-building tool. The panel consisted of 422 experts in fields such as neuroscience, basic behavioral science, mental health services, and epidemiology, and represented more than 60 countries.

Over two months, NIMH staff pared the panel’s initial list of 1,565 challenges down to 154, with input from a scientific advisory board. From this list, the expert panel selected the top 40, of which the top five challenges identified after the third and final round of ranking are:

– Integrate screening and core packages of services into routine primary health care

– Reduce the cost and improve the supply of effective medications

– Improve children’s access to evidence-based care by trained health providers in low- and middle-income countries

– Provide effective and affordable community-based care and rehabilitation

– Strengthen the mental health component in the training of all health care personnel.

These top five challenges were ranked according to the ability to reduce the burden of disease, ability to reduce inequalities in health and health care, length of time until results can be observed, and the ability for the topic to be researched effectively.

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4 comments to Global Study Identifies Top Mental Health Challenges

  • AW

    I am interested in learning about the different types of psychiatric care that is available in different countries. What countries have the best care available for instance. I am doing a research project and I am having trouble determining where the best care is available.

    I appreciate your assistance in finding this information. I have been online and do not see a website that describes this information.

    Thank you.

  • Thanks for your comment and readership of Science Business. Let me suggest you review the mental health section of the World Health Organization site, particularly its policy and services section, where it spells out criteria for quality care and gives examples from different countries. You can probably piece together what you need from there. Good luck.

  • JR

    I find that a top challenge to good mental health is not enough information is given on the alternatives to the normal mental health treatments (medications and ECT).

    People need to know that there are many choices for good mental health. They also must know about the dangerous side effects of medications that are prescribed to “better” their mental health.

    If these were more widely known people could make an informed decision.

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