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Using information and evidence to improve mental health policy 

Using information and evidence to improve mental health policy
Using information and evidence to improve mental health policy
Oxford Textbook of Community Mental Health

Michelle Funk

, Jodi Morris

, and Shekhar Saxena


A mental health policy is the official statement of a government about what they will do to improve the mental health situation in that country. Together with a mental health plan, which details concrete actions to implement the policy, they represent essential tools to improve the way mental health problems are addressed in countries. When well formulated, they can coordinate, through a common vision and plan, all programmes, services, and actions related to mental health. Without this type of organization, mental health problems are likely to be dealt with in an inefficient and fragmented manner. Mental health policies assist to maximize the effectiveness of mental health programmes, to ensure that funds are spent wisely, and to improve coordination among service providers in the community (Funk et al., 2005).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has argued for developing national policies on mental health that are information and evidence based. Though the broad objectives of the policy may remain the same across countries, the starting points are likely to be different across countries (even within the same income category) so much so that background and contextual information become essential for the development of policy and plans.

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