Global mental health

To raise awareness of the burden of mental health in LMIC, the Academy held a one-day symposium in 2008 at the Royal Society.


Mental health in developing countries has long been a neglected and under-resourced area of research, and an explicit focus on mental illness was excluded from the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet mental and neurological disorders are responsible for 13% of the global burden of disease and unipolar depressive disorder is projected to become the second leading cause of health burden by 2030. In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), shortages in the workforce, poor infrastructure and low investment in resources prevent many from receiving adequate treatment for mental health problems, and resources and capacity for research into mental illness remain low.

Nevertheless, the evidence base for the burden and epidemiology of mental illness in LMIC is growing and a number of recent studies have demonstrated the clinical and cost-effectiveness of community interventions.

In order to highlight this exciting research, to identify areas where greater action may be required, and to raise awareness of the burden of mental health in LMIC, the Academy held a one-day symposium on 4 September 2008 at the Royal Society in London.

The event included presentations by national and international experts and provided a forum for discussion between researchers, clinicians, policymakers and a range of stakeholders. The symposium also provided an opportunity to highlight the latest advances in research, to discuss the development of effective and affordable treatments, and to identify both barriers to progress and areas where greater action may be required.

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