Why is Mental Illness so low on the Global Health Agenda?
Overcoming the stigma of mental health remains a challenge in America, but it’s an even greater fight in developing countries where suicide ranks alongside — or even higher — than maternal mortality as the leading cause of death among young women.
Despite recent reports highlighting the need for greater attention to mental health, many people still tend to view mental illness as a character flaw. Consequently, the mentally ill in poor or ignorant communities are thought of as weak or lazy and suffer severe abuse, even in healthcare settings.
“In developing countries, it is not uncommon to find people with serious mental illness chained up, locked away or subjected to regular, outright abuse, even in health care institutions,” says Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and one of the leading advocates and pioneers of incorporating mental health services in poor countries. “If any of us saw even one individual with HIV/AIDS treated like that, there would be global outrage … But you don’t see the same outrage when it is people with mental illness.”
Visit Humanosphere.org to learn more about the efforts at better incorporating mental health into the global health agenda.
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