This is a blog for the Mental Health Policy Class at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

November 11, 2009

The International Burden of Mental Illness

WHO | Chapter 2: Burden of Mental and Behavioural Disorders

Mental and behavioural disorders are common, affecting more than 25% of all people at some time during their lives. They are also universal, affecting people of all countries and societies, individuals at all ages, women and men, the rich and the poor, from urban and rural environments. They have an economic impact on societies and on the quality of life of individuals and families. Mental and behavioural disorders are present at any point in time in about 10% of the adult population. Around 20% of all patients seen by primary health care professionals have one or more mental disorders. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder. These families not only provide physical and emotional support, but also bear the negative impact of stigma and discrimination. It was estimated that, in 1990, mental and neurological disorders accounted for 10% of the total DALYs lost due to all diseases and injuries. This was 12% in 2000. By 2020, it is projected that the burden of these disorders will have increased to 15%. Common disorders, which usually cause severe disability, include depressive disorders, substance use disorders, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, mental retardation, and disorders of childhood and adolescence. Factors associated with the prevalence, onset and course of mental and behavioural disorders include poverty, sex, age, conflicts and disasters, major physical diseases, and the family and social environment.

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