Dimensions of the problem

Mental and behavioural disorders are common, affecting more than 25% of all people at some time during their lives. They are also universal, affecting people of all countries and societies, individuals at all ages, women and men, the rich and the poor, from urban and rural environments. They have an economic impact on societies and on the quality of life of individuals and families. Mental and behavioural disorders are present at any point in time in about 10% of the adult population. Around 20% of all patients seen by primary health care professionals have one or more mental disorders. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder.

Source: World Health Report, 2001

The importance of neuropsychiatrie disorders waf underestimated when health pru^deins'vvcrc rankeo solely on their contribution to mortality Tate1-, N->w' that the measurement of burden of disease includes calculation of the amount of disability, there ; greater appreciation of the importance of ne'iro psychiatric disorders. In 1998, it was estimated that 11% of the global burden of disease was att i'mtable to neuropsychiatric conditions. In high-income countries, one out of every four DALYs was lost to a neuropsychiatric conditions, while in low- and middle-income countries this group of conditions was responsible for one out of ten DALYs.

Of the ten leading causes of disease burden in young adults (in the 15A4 year age group) four were neuropsychiatric conditions. In 1998, alcohol dependence, unipolar major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were among the leading causes of disease burden in adults aged 15A44 years.

Psychiatric disorders are frequently a considerable drain on health resources as a consequence of being misunderstood, misdiagnosed or improperly treated. Mental health care, unlike many other areas of health, does not generally demand costly technology; rather, it requires the sensitive deployment of personnel who have been properly trained in the use of relatively inexpensive drugs and psychological support skills on an outpatient basis.

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