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A call for action

September 03, 2007

Every year up to 30% of the population worldwide will suffer from some form of mental disorder, and at least two-thirds of those receive inadequate or no treatment, even in countries with the best resources. The treatment 'gap' approaches 90% in many developing countries. In this final paper of six in The Lancet Global Mental Health Series, The Lancet Global Mental Health Group* join together to call for a scale-up of mental health services worldwide.

The cost of providing services at the necessary scale is estimated at US$2 per person in low-income countries and US$3-4 per person in middle-income countries, which is modest compared with the costs of scaling up services for other major contributors to the global-disease burden.

The authors say: "We call on governments, multilateral agencies, and donors (most of whom frequently ignore mental health), public-health organisations, mental health professionals, and consumer groups that represent mental health stakeholders to act now to make this happen."

They add: "The Series has provided the evidence for advocacy. Now we need political will and solidarity, above all from the global health community, to translate this evidence into action. The time to act is now."

Notes to editors: The Lancet Global Mental Health Writing Group is: Vikram Patel, Shekhar Saxena, Graham Thornicroft, Dan Chisholm, Alan Fisher, Crick Lund, Mark Tomlinson - full affiliations are in the "Global Mental Health 6" paper. Altogether, 39 individuals comprise the Lancet Global Mental Health Group and a full list of these individuals can be found in the paper.


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