Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Experts Issue "Grand Challenges" to World Mental Health Community

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A panel convened by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of 422 experts from more than 60 countries has described the most important challenges to improving the lives of people with psychiatric, neurological, and substance abuse disorders.

Disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and drug or alcohol dependence together result in more years of productive life lost to death, disability, or poor health than either cancer or heart disease, according to panel. Addressing the “Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health” would improve access to diagnosis and treatment for millions around the world, said the panelists in the July 7 issue of Nature.

The top five challenges the experts identified are:

• Integrating screening and basic services into routine primary health care,

• Reducing the cost and improving the supply of effective medications,

• Improving children’s access to evidence-based care by trained health care providers in low- and middle-income countries,
• Providing effective and affordable community-based care and rehabilitation,

• Strengthening mental health training for all health care personnel.

“Participating in global mental health research is an enormous opportunity, a means to accelerate advances in mental health care for the diverse U.S. population, as well as an extension of our vision of a world where mental illnesses are prevented and cured," said NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a statement.

For more coverage of key mental health issues around the world, see Psychiatric News at


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