World Health Day- Monday, April 7, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

World Health Day—Monday, April 7, 2003

Adequate Mental Health Care Rare in Most Nations

Washington, D.C.— Few nations around the world have adequate mental health programs and many lack even the most basic or rudimentary treatment and prevention services. Therapeutic drugs are often unavailable within developing nations, leading many people to be hospitalized— often in crowded unsanitary asylums where they are neglected and abused— for conditions that could be treated with drugs, therapy, or both.

"Relative to the developing world, industrialized nations have a plethora of resources for treating people with mental disorders," states Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch researcher and contributing author to Vital Signs 2002. "Developed nations are also ahead in educating the public about the nature and causes of psychological disorders and in trying to alleviate the stigma associated with mental illness."

Poverty, rural isolation, and physical abuse are some of the factors that can bring out psychological problems. According to Nierenberg, experts now also recognize that mental health problems are not limited to adults but are prevalent among children and the elderly. In the United States, one in 10 young people suffers from impairment of psychological development or from behavioral, emotional, and depressive disorders. Some 18 percent of children and teens in Ethiopia have a mental disorder. In India, the figure is 13 percent.

Worldwide, a third of all healthy life years lost to a disability are due to a mental disease. Depression is the most debilitating, affecting 120 million people around the world.

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