Thinking Globally to Improve Mental Health
A comprehensive, NIH-led effort has identified the top 40 barriers to improving mental health worldwide. Four-hundred, twenty-two experts in fields such as neuroscience, basic behavioral science, mental health services, and epidemiology, and represented more than 60 countries, are calling for a greater world focus on improving access to care and treatment for mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders, as well as increasing discoveries in research that will enable this goal to be met.
Akinso: A global health initiative aims to improve mental health worldwide.
Collins: The initiative is called Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health.
Akinso: Dr. Pamela Collins is from the National Institutes of Health.
Collins: And this is an initiative that was meant to catalyze investment and research needed to reduce the burden of mental neurological and substance use disorders. And itís a priority setting intervention. But unlike previous priorities setting exercises in mental health, this one was conducted with the idea of mobilizing a community of funders.
Akinso: The initiative, led by the NIH and the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases has identified the top 40 barriers to better mental health around the world. To identify those barriers, Dr. Collins explains that an initial list of more than 1500 research challenges was narrowed down to 154.
Collins: According to the feasibility, the immediacy of impact, the impact on disease burden and disparities reduction.
Akinso: Dr. Collins and colleagues assembled an international panel of experts to identify the research priorities. The panel consisted of more than 400 experts in fields such as neuroscience, basic behavioral science, mental health services, and epidemiology, and represented more than 60 countries. She highlights the top five challenges.
Collins: The top five they were integrated screening and core packages of services into routine primary health care; to reduce the cost and improve the supply of effective medications; to provide effective and affordable community based care and rehabilitation; to improve children's access to evidence-based care by trained health care providers in low and middle income countries; and to strengthen the mental health component in training of all health care personnel.
Akinso: According to Dr. Collins, the disorders targeted by the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health collectively account for more years of life lost to poor health, disability, or early death than either cardiovascular disease or cancer.
Collins: I would say that most important similarity when you look at these initiatives that are focusing on chronic disease like mental disorders, neurological disorders, and substance abuse disorders, is that they really highlight the need for a range of science, from discovery science to services research, to policy research, and intervention studies. And this whole range is needed to address the needs for management of disease for disease burden reduction of these kinds of illnesses.Akinso: She adds that addressing these challenges could have far reaching effects, including increasing access to services and ultimately reducing the treatment gap associated with these disorders. For more information, visit www.nimh.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.