An Urgent Request for Evidence-Based Mental Health Intervention Research in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries

Linda E. O’Raw* and Zara Tariq

An Urgent Request for Evidence-Based Mental Health Intervention Research in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries.

The rise in mental health issues is a global phenomenon. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published data that shows the global burden of mental disorders continues to grow and claim that the health systems throughout the world are struggling to respond adequately to the needs of people with mental health disorders.

Approximately 85% of the world population resides in 153 low-income and middle-income countries. Further, more than 80% of people who have mental disorders are located in LMICs. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide as measured in disability adjusted life years, accounting for nearly a quarter (22%) of all days lived with disability.

As populations age, the burden of non-communicable diseases, such as mental disorders, is rising. Mental and neurological disorders combined account for over a third (37%) of the disability
burden associated with chronic non-communicable diseases. However, it is estimated that 90-95% of mental health resources, including human resources for psychological therapies are being delivered in countries that only account for 5% of the population. This is a global inequity and it is unjust.

Stigma is a known factor that inhibits access to psychological therapies. About 8 in 10 people with depression had experienced discrimination, usually within familiar settings such as with
family members, friends, work relationships, marriage and divorce and with other interpersonal relationships.

The most vulnerable groups appear to be child and adolescent and the aging populations, although the data available from various government statistics are lacking and there is little on the ground
evidence-based intervention research being published that shows sustainable steps forward. The associated consequence of this is critical gaps in knowledge and a failure to adequately understand
global mental health needs, especially in poorer socioeconomic countries.

Psychol Cogn Sci Open J. 2019; 5(2): 50-52. doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-5-149