World mental health surveys find mental disorders highly prevalent and often untreated

Reallocation of treatment resources could substantially decrease the problem of unmet need for treatment of mental disorders among serious cases in developed and developing countries, according to the findings from The World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys published in the June 2 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a theme issue on Global Health.

Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School, Boston, presented the findings from the study today at a JAMA media briefing held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Co-Principal Investigators of the Survey, Dr. Kessler and Dr. T. Bedirhan stn from the World Health Organization, together with co-authors from The WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium analyzed data from 60,463 face-to-face household surveys with adults in 14 countries (6 less developed, 8 developed) to estimate the prevalence, severity, and treatment of mental disorders. The surveys were conducted from 2001 - 2003 in the Americas (Columbia, Mexico, United States), Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine), the Middle East and Africa (Lebanon, Nigeria), and Asia (Japan, separate surveys in Beijing and Shanghai in the People's Republic of China). The six countries classified as less developed by the World Bank are China, Colombia, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

All surveys used the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI), a structured diagnostic interview to assess disorders and treatment. Disorders considered included anxiety disorders, mood disorders, disorders that share a feature of problems with impulse control (for example, bulimia [episodic binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors]), and substance abuse disorders.

The researchers found that the prevalence of having any mental disorder in the prior year varied widely from 4.3 percent in Shanghai to 26.4 percent in the

Contact: John Lacey
JAMA and Archives Journals

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