Mental health: from the shadows into the spotlight

27 June 2017

Source: World Health Organization


Mental health as a dimension of a non-communicable disease (NCD) crisis in “Ten years in public health, 2007–2017”, report by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization.





Mental health received unprecedented attention over the past decade, moving truly “out of the shadows”. This work culminated in the World Health Day 2017 campaign on depression, which is a one-year campaign aimed at ensuring that more people with depression, in all countries, seek and get help.


The decade began with a ground-breaking series on Global Mental Health published in the Lancet in 2007, with WHO staff as contributing authors. Noting that mental health disorders remain both neglected and deeply stigmatized across societies, papers highlighted the scale of the problem and the treatment gap, and set out some eye-opening statistics: in some parts of the developing world, nearly 80% of people with mental health disorders receive no treatment whatsoever.


In 2008, WHO developed the mental health Global Action Programme (mhGAP) aimed at scaling up care for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders. That work culminated in 2010, when WHO published its mhGAP Intervention Guide. The guide covered the most prevalent mental, neurological, and substance use disorders and set out an inventory of effective interventions, often simple and inexpensive, for each. Most importantly, it showed how these disorders could be managed by health personnel with no specialized training in primary health care settings.


Read the chapter Mental health: from the shadows into the spotlight.

PDF of the full chapter is here.

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