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Psychiatry as a worldwide public health problem 

Psychiatry as a worldwide public health problem
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date: 15 September 2019

The twentieth century has witnessed significant improvements in somatic health in most countries. A number of key public health threats have been eradicated or brought under control under the leadership of WHO. Priority was given to communicable diseases in view of their inherent potential to spreading. At the present time, a focus on non-communicable diseases and mental health would now appear as the next natural step in public health priorities. In the case of mental health, this is due to the capacity of mental disorders to proliferate not only as a result of complex and multiple biological, psychological but also social determinants. WHO estimates that at any given time 450 million people suffer from some form of mental or brain disorder, including alcohol and substance use disorders. In other words, one in four of the world’s population suffer from different forms of mental, behavioural, and neurological disorders. This chapter looks at the economic and social costs of mental disorders, global resources for mental health, the treatment gap for mental disorders, and improving mental health care.

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