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To investigate for the first time the determinants and barriers of seeking help for mental disorders in the Arab world based on a national study: Lebanese Evaluation of the Burden of Ailments and Needs Of the Nation (L.E.B.A.N.O.N).
A nationally representative (n = 2857) and multistage clustered area probability household sample of adults ≥18 years and older was assessed for lifetime and 12 months mental disorders using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. In addition, detailed information was obtained on help- seeking behaviour and barriers to treatment.
In total, 19.7% of the Lebanese with mental disorders sought any type of treatment: 91% of those who sought treatment did so within the health sector. Severity and perceived severity of disorders predicted seeking help, the highest being for panic disorder. The greatest barrier to seek help was low perceived need for treatment (73.9%). Stigma was reported to be a factor only in 5.9% of those who thought about seeking treatment. Eighty per cent of the Lebanese reported they would not be embarrassed if friends knew they were seeking help from a professional.
A small fraction of Lebanese seek help for their mental health problems: female gender, higher education and income are predictors of positive attitudes to help seeking. Severity and recognition of disorders, more than stigma, to get treatment seem to be the most important factors in determining help seeking. The findings underscore the importance of helping the public recognise mental health disorders.
The treatment gap between the number of people with mental disorders and the number treated represents a major public health challenge. We examine this gap by socio-economic status (SES; indicated by family income and respondent education) and service sector in a cross-national analysis of community epidemiological survey data.
Data come from 16 753 respondents with 12-month DSM-IV disorders from community surveys in 25 countries in the WHO World Mental Health Survey Initiative. DSM-IV anxiety, mood, or substance disorders and treatment of these disorders were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
Only 13.7% of 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI cases in lower-middle-income countries, 22.0% in upper-middle-income countries, and 36.8% in high-income countries received treatment. Highest-SES respondents were somewhat more likely to receive treatment, but this was true mostly for specialty mental health treatment, where the association was positive with education (highest treatment among respondents with the highest education and a weak association of education with treatment among other respondents) but non-monotonic with income (somewhat lower treatment rates among middle-income respondents and equivalent among those with high and low incomes).
The modest, but nonetheless stronger, an association of education than income with treatment raises questions about a financial barriers interpretation of the inverse association of SES with treatment, although future within-country analyses that consider contextual factors might document other important specifications. While beyond the scope of this report, such an expanded analysis could have important implications for designing interventions aimed at increasing mental disorder treatment among socio-economically disadvantaged people.
Research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) course finds a substantial proportion of cases remit within 6 months, a majority within 2 years, and a substantial minority persists for many years. Results are inconsistent about pre-trauma predictors.
The WHO World Mental Health surveys assessed lifetime DSM-IV PTSD presence-course after one randomly-selected trauma, allowing retrospective estimates of PTSD duration. Prior traumas, childhood adversities (CAs), and other lifetime DSM-IV mental disorders were examined as predictors using discrete-time person-month survival analysis among the 1575 respondents with lifetime PTSD.
20%, 27%, and 50% of cases recovered within 3, 6, and 24 months and 77% within 10 years (the longest duration allowing stable estimates). Time-related recall bias was found largely for recoveries after 24 months. Recovery was weakly related to most trauma types other than very low [odds-ratio (OR) 0.2–0.3] early-recovery (within 24 months) associated with purposefully injuring/torturing/killing and witnessing atrocities and very low later-recovery (25+ months) associated with being kidnapped. The significant ORs for prior traumas, CAs, and mental disorders were generally inconsistent between early- and later-recovery models. Cross-validated versions of final models nonetheless discriminated significantly between the 50% of respondents with highest and lowest predicted probabilities of both early-recovery (66–55% v. 43%) and later-recovery (75–68% v. 39%).
We found PTSD recovery trajectories similar to those in previous studies. The weak associations of pre-trauma factors with recovery, also consistent with previous studies, presumably are due to stronger influences of post-trauma factors.
Sexual assault is a global concern with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one of the common sequelae. Early intervention can help prevent PTSD, making identification of those at high risk for the disorder a priority. Lack of representative sampling of both sexual assault survivors and sexual assaults in prior studies might have reduced the ability to develop accurate prediction models for early identification of high-risk sexual assault survivors.
Data come from 12 face-to-face, cross-sectional surveys of community-dwelling adults conducted in 11 countries. Analysis was based on the data from the 411 women from these surveys for whom sexual assault was the randomly selected lifetime traumatic event (TE). Seven classes of predictors were assessed: socio-demographics, characteristics of the assault, the respondent's retrospective perception that she could have prevented the assault, other prior lifetime TEs, exposure to childhood family adversities and prior mental disorders.
Prevalence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) PTSD associated with randomly selected sexual assaults was 20.2%. PTSD was more common for repeated than single-occurrence victimization and positively associated with prior TEs and childhood adversities. Respondent's perception that she could have prevented the assault interacted with history of mental disorder such that it reduced odds of PTSD, but only among women without prior disorders (odds ratio 0.2, 95% confidence interval 0.1–0.9). The final model estimated that 40.3% of women with PTSD would be found among the 10% with the highest predicted risk.
Whether counterfactual preventability cognitions are adaptive may depend on mental health history. Predictive modelling may be useful in targeting high-risk women for preventive interventions.
The present study aimed to assess the effects of an early childhood nutrition counselling intervention on intelligence (as measured by the intelligence quotient (IQ)) at age 15–16 years.
A single-blind, cluster-randomised trial.
In 1998, in Southern Brazil, mothers of children aged 18 months or younger were enrolled in a nutrition counselling intervention (n 424). Counselling included encouragement and promotion of exclusive breast-feeding until 6 months of age and continued breast-feeding supplemented by protein-, lipid- and carbohydrate-rich foods after age 6 months up to age 2 years. The control group received routine feeding advice. In 2013, the fourth round of follow-up of these individuals, at the age of 15–16 years, was undertaken. IQ was assessed using the short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III). Mental disorders (evaluated using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA)) and self-reported school failure, smoking and alcohol use were also investigated. Adjusted analyses were conducted using a multilevel model in accordance with the sampling process.
Adolescents, mean (sd) age of 15·4 (0·5) years (n 339).
Mean (sd) total IQ score was lower in the intervention group than the control group (93·4 (11·4) and 95·8 (11·2), respectively) but the association did not persist after adjustment. The prevalence of any mental disorders was similar between intervention and control groups (23·1 and 23·5 %, respectively). There were no differences between groups regarding school failure, smoking and alcohol use.
Nutrition counselling intervention in early childhood had no effect on intelligence measured during adolescence.
Traumatic events are common globally; however, comprehensive population-based cross-national data on the epidemiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the paradigmatic trauma-related mental disorder, are lacking.
Data were analyzed from 26 population surveys in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. A total of 71 083 respondents ages 18+ participated. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview assessed exposure to traumatic events as well as 30-day, 12-month, and lifetime PTSD. Respondents were also assessed for treatment in the 12 months preceding the survey. Age of onset distributions were examined by country income level. Associations of PTSD were examined with country income, world region, and respondent demographics.
The cross-national lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 3.9% in the total sample and 5.6% among the trauma exposed. Half of respondents with PTSD reported persistent symptoms. Treatment seeking in high-income countries (53.5%) was roughly double that in low-lower middle income (22.8%) and upper-middle income (28.7%) countries. Social disadvantage, including younger age, female sex, being unmarried, being less educated, having lower household income, and being unemployed, was associated with increased risk of lifetime PTSD among the trauma exposed.
PTSD is prevalent cross-nationally, with half of all global cases being persistent. Only half of those with severe PTSD report receiving any treatment and only a minority receive specialty mental health care. Striking disparities in PTSD treatment exist by country income level. Increasing access to effective treatment, especially in low- and middle-income countries, remains critical for reducing the population burden of PTSD.
Although there is robust evidence linking childhood adversities (CAs) and an increased risk for psychotic experiences (PEs), little is known about whether these associations vary across the life-course and whether mental disorders that emerge prior to PEs explain these associations.
We assessed CAs, PEs and DSM-IV mental disorders in 23 998 adults in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to investigate the associations between CAs and PEs, and the influence of mental disorders on these associations using multivariate logistic models.
Exposure to CAs was common, and those who experienced any CAs had increased odds of later PEs [odds ratio (OR) 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9–2.6]. CAs reflecting maladaptive family functioning (MFF), including abuse, neglect, and parent maladjustment, exhibited the strongest associations with PE onset in all life-course stages. Sexual abuse exhibited a strong association with PE onset during childhood (OR 8.5, 95% CI 3.6–20.2), whereas Other CA types were associated with PE onset in adolescence. Associations of other CAs with PEs disappeared in adolescence after adjustment for prior-onset mental disorders. The population attributable risk proportion (PARP) for PEs associated with all CAs was 31% (24% for MFF).
Exposure to CAs is associated with PE onset throughout the life-course, although sexual abuse is most strongly associated with childhood-onset PEs. The presence of mental disorders prior to the onset of PEs does not fully explain these associations. The large PARPs suggest that preventing CAs could lead to a meaningful reduction in PEs in the population.
Research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following natural and human-made disasters has been undertaken for more than three decades. Although PTSD prevalence estimates vary widely, most are in the 20–40% range in disaster-focused studies but considerably lower (3–5%) in the few general population epidemiological surveys that evaluated disaster-related PTSD as part of a broader clinical assessment. The World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys provide an opportunity to examine disaster-related PTSD in representative general population surveys across a much wider range of sites than in previous studies.
Although disaster-related PTSD was evaluated in 18 WMH surveys, only six in high-income countries had enough respondents for a risk factor analysis. Predictors considered were socio-demographics, disaster characteristics, and pre-disaster vulnerability factors (childhood family adversities, prior traumatic experiences, and prior mental disorders).
Disaster-related PTSD prevalence was 0.0–3.8% among adult (ages 18+) WMH respondents and was significantly related to high education, serious injury or death of someone close, forced displacement from home, and pre-existing vulnerabilities (prior childhood family adversities, other traumas, and mental disorders). Of PTSD cases 44.5% were among the 5% of respondents classified by the model as having highest PTSD risk.
Disaster-related PTSD is uncommon in high-income WMH countries. Risk factors are consistent with prior research: severity of exposure, history of prior stress exposure, and pre-existing mental disorders. The high concentration of PTSD among respondents with high predicted risk in our model supports the focus of screening assessments that identify disaster survivors most in need of preventive interventions.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
Considerable research has documented that exposure to traumatic events has negative effects on physical and mental health. Much less research has examined the predictors of traumatic event exposure. Increased understanding of risk factors for exposure to traumatic events could be of considerable value in targeting preventive interventions and anticipating service needs.
General population surveys in 24 countries with a combined sample of 68 894 adult respondents across six continents assessed exposure to 29 traumatic event types. Differences in prevalence were examined with cross-tabulations. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine whether traumatic event types clustered into interpretable factors. Survival analysis was carried out to examine associations of sociodemographic characteristics and prior traumatic events with subsequent exposure.
Over 70% of respondents reported a traumatic event; 30.5% were exposed to four or more. Five types – witnessing death or serious injury, the unexpected death of a loved one, being mugged, being in a life-threatening automobile accident, and experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury – accounted for over half of all exposures. Exposure varied by country, sociodemographics and history of prior traumatic events. Being married was the most consistent protective factor. Exposure to interpersonal violence had the strongest associations with subsequent traumatic events.
Given the near ubiquity of exposure, limited resources may best be dedicated to those that are more likely to be further exposed such as victims of interpersonal violence. Identifying mechanisms that account for the associations of prior interpersonal violence with subsequent trauma is critical to develop interventions to prevent revictimization.
To examine cross-national patterns and correlates of lifetime and 12-month comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with lifetime and 12-month DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD).
Nationally or regionally representative epidemiological interviews were administered to 74 045 adults in 27 surveys across 24 countries in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. DSM-IV MDD, a wide range of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders, and a number of correlates were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
45.7% of respondents with lifetime MDD (32.0–46.5% inter-quartile range (IQR) across surveys) had one of more lifetime anxiety disorders. A slightly higher proportion of respondents with 12-month MDD had lifetime anxiety disorders (51.7%, 37.8–54.0% IQR) and only slightly lower proportions of respondents with 12-month MDD had 12-month anxiety disorders (41.6%, 29.9–47.2% IQR). Two-thirds (68%) of respondents with lifetime comorbid anxiety disorders and MDD reported an earlier age-of-onset (AOO) of their first anxiety disorder than their MDD, while 13.5% reported an earlier AOO of MDD and the remaining 18.5% reported the same AOO of both disorders. Women and previously married people had consistently elevated rates of lifetime and 12-month MDD as well as comorbid anxiety disorders. Consistently higher proportions of respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD reported severe role impairment (64.4 v. 46.0%; χ21 = 187.0, p < 0.001) and suicide ideation (19.5 v. 8.9%; χ21 = 71.6, p < 0.001). Significantly more respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD received treatment for their depression in the 12 months before interview, but this difference was more pronounced in high-income countries (68.8 v. 45.4%; χ21 = 108.8, p < 0.001) than low/middle-income countries (30.3 v. 20.6%; χ21 = 11.7, p < 0.001).
Patterns and correlates of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with DSM-IV MDD are similar across WMH countries. The narrow IQR of the proportion of respondents with temporally prior AOO of anxiety disorders than comorbid MDD (69.6–74.7%) is especially noteworthy. However, the fact that these proportions are not higher among respondents with 12-month than lifetime comorbidity means that temporal priority between lifetime anxiety disorders and MDD is not related to MDD persistence among people with anxious MDD. This, in turn, raises complex questions about the relative importance of temporally primary anxiety disorders as risk markers v. causal risk factors for subsequent MDD onset and persistence, including the possibility that anxiety disorders might primarily be risk markers for MDD onset and causal risk factors for MDD persistence.
Course and predictors of persistence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults are still largely unknown. Neurobiological and clinical differences between child and adult ADHD raise the need for follow-up studies of patients diagnosed during adulthood. This study investigates predictors of ADHD persistence and the possibility of full remission 7 years after baseline assessment.
A 7-year follow-up study of adults with ADHD (n = 344, mean age 34.1 years, 49.9% males) was conducted. Variables from different domains (social demographics, co-morbidities, temperament, medication status, ADHD measures) were explored with the aim of finding potential predictors of ADHD persistence.
Retention rate was 66% (n = 227). Approximately a third of the sample (n = 70, 30.2%) did not maintain ADHD criteria and 28 (12.4%) presented full remission (<4 symptoms), independently of changes in co-morbidity or cognitive demand profiles. Baseline predictors of diagnostic persistence were higher number of inattention symptoms [odds ratio (OR) 8.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.54–25.45, p < 0.001], number of hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.04–1.34, p = 0.01), oppositional defiant disorder (OR 3.12, 95% CI 1.20–8.11, p = 0.02), and social phobia (OR 3.59, 95% CI 1.12–11.47, p = 0.03).
Despite the stage of brain maturation in adults suggests stability, approximately one third of the sample did not keep full DSM-IV diagnosis at follow-up, regardless if at early, middle or older adulthood. Although full remission is less common than in childhood, it should be considered as a possible outcome among adults.
Although variation in the long-term course of major depressive disorder (MDD) is not strongly predicted by existing symptom subtype distinctions, recent research suggests that prediction can be improved by using machine learning methods. However, it is not known whether these distinctions can be refined by added information about co-morbid conditions. The current report presents results on this question.
Data came from 8261 respondents with lifetime DSM-IV MDD in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. Outcomes included four retrospectively reported measures of persistence/severity of course (years in episode; years in chronic episodes; hospitalization for MDD; disability due to MDD). Machine learning methods (regression tree analysis; lasso, ridge and elastic net penalized regression) followed by k-means cluster analysis were used to augment previously detected subtypes with information about prior co-morbidity to predict these outcomes.
Predicted values were strongly correlated across outcomes. Cluster analysis of predicted values found three clusters with consistently high, intermediate or low values. The high-risk cluster (32.4% of cases) accounted for 56.6–72.9% of high persistence, high chronicity, hospitalization and disability. This high-risk cluster had both higher sensitivity and likelihood ratio positive (LR+; relative proportions of cases in the high-risk cluster versus other clusters having the adverse outcomes) than in a parallel analysis that excluded measures of co-morbidity as predictors.
Although the results using the retrospective data reported here suggest that useful MDD subtyping distinctions can be made with machine learning and clustering across multiple indicators of illness persistence/severity, replication with prospective data is needed to confirm this preliminary conclusion.
To examine barriers to initiation and continuation of mental health treatment among individuals with common mental disorders.
Data were from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Representative household samples were interviewed face to face in 24 countries. Reasons to initiate and continue treatment were examined in a subsample (n = 636 78) and analyzed at different levels of clinical severity.
Among those with a DSM-IV disorder in the past 12 months, low perceived need was the most common reason for not initiating treatment and more common among moderate and mild than severe cases. Women and younger people with disorders were more likely to recognize a need for treatment. A desire to handle the problem on one's own was the most common barrier among respondents with a disorder who perceived a need for treatment (63.8%). Attitudinal barriers were much more important than structural barriers to both initiating and continuing treatment. However, attitudinal barriers dominated for mild-moderate cases and structural barriers for severe cases. Perceived ineffectiveness of treatment was the most commonly reported reason for treatment drop-out (39.3%), followed by negative experiences with treatment providers (26.9% of respondents with severe disorders).
Low perceived need and attitudinal barriers are the major barriers to seeking and staying in treatment among individuals with common mental disorders worldwide. Apart from targeting structural barriers, mainly in countries with poor resources, increasing population mental health literacy is an important endeavor worldwide.
In this global study we sought to estimate the degree to which a family member might feel embarrassed when a close relative is suffering from an alcohol, drug, or mental health condition (ADMC) versus a general medical condition (GMC). To date, most studies have considered embarrassment and stigma in society and internalized by the afflicted individual but have not assessed family embarrassment in a large-scale study.
In 16 sites of the World Mental Health Surveys (WMHS), standardized assessments were completed including items on family embarrassment. Site matching was used to constrain local socially shared determinants of stigma-related feelings, enabling a conditional logistic regression model that estimates the embarrassment close relatives may hold in relation to family members affected by an ADMC, a GMC, or both conditions.
There was a statistically robust association such that subgroups with an ADMC-affected relative were more likely to feel embarrassed compared to subgroups with a relative affected by a GMC (p < 0.001), even with covariate adjustments for age and sex.
The pattern of evidence from this research is consistent with conceptual models for interventions that target individual- and family-level stigma-related feelings of embarrassment as possible obstacles to effective early intervention and treatment for an ADMC. Macro-level interventions are under way but micro-level interventions may also be required among family members, along with care for each person with an ADMC.
Current trends in population aging affect both recipients and providers of informal family caregiving, as the pool of family caregivers is shrinking while demand is increasing. Epidemiological research has not yet examined the implications of these trends for burdens experienced by aging family caregivers.
Cross-sectional community surveys in 20 countries asked 13 892 respondents aged 50+ years about the objective (time, financial) and subjective (distress, embarrassment) burdens they experience in providing care to first-degree relatives with 12 broadly defined serious physical and mental conditions. Differential burden was examined by country income category, kinship status and type of condition.
Among the 26.9–42.5% respondents in high-, upper-middle-, and low-/lower-middle-income countries reporting serious relative health conditions, 35.7–42.5% reported burden. Of those, 25.2–29.0% spent time and 13.5–19.4% money, while 24.4–30.6% felt distress and 6.4–21.7% embarrassment. Mean caregiving hours per week in those giving any time were 16.6–23.6 (169.9–205.8 h/week per 100 people aged 50+ years). Burden in low-/lower-middle-income countries was 2- to 3-fold higher than in higher-income countries, with any financial burden averaging 14.3% of median family income in high-, 17.7% in upper-middle-, and 39.8% in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Higher burden was reported by women than men and for conditions of spouses and children than parents or siblings.
Uncompensated family caregiving is an important societal asset that offsets rising formal healthcare costs. However, the substantial burdens experienced by aging caregivers across multiple family health conditions and geographic regions threaten the continued integrity of their caregiving capacity. Initiatives supporting older family caregivers are consequently needed, especially in low-/lower-middle-income countries.
Suicide rates increase following periods of war; however, the mechanism through which this occurs is not known. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the associations of war exposure, mental disorders, and subsequent suicidal behavior.
A national sample of Lebanese adults was administered the Composite International Diagnostic Interview to collect data on lifetime prevalence and age of onset of suicide ideation, plan, and attempt, and mental disorders, in addition to information about exposure to stressors associated with the 1975–1989 Lebanon war.
The onset of suicide ideation, plan, and attempt was associated with female gender, younger age, post-war period, major depression, impulse-control disorders, and social phobia. The effect of post-war period on each type of suicide outcome was largely explained by the post-war onset of mental disorders. Finally, the conjunction of having a prior impulse-control disorder and either being a civilian in a terror region or witnessing war-related stressors was associated with especially high risk of suicide attempt.
The association of war with increased risk of suicidality appears to be partially explained by the emergence of mental disorders in the context of war. Exposure to war may exacerbate disinhibition among those who have prior impulse-control disorders, thus magnifying the association of mental disorders with suicidality.
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide; however, little
information is available about the treatment of suicidal people, or about
barriers to treatment.
To examine the receipt of mental health treatment and barriers to care
among suicidal people around the world.
Twenty-one nationally representative samples worldwide
(n=55 302; age 18 years and over) from the World
Health Organization's World Mental Health Surveys were interviewed
regarding past-year suicidal behaviour and past-year healthcare use.
Suicidal respondents who had not used services in the past year were
asked why they had not sought care.
Two-fifths of the suicidal respondents had received treatment (from 17%
in low-income countries to 56% in high-income countries), mostly from a
general medical practitioner (22%), psychiatrist (15%) or
non-psychiatrist (15%). Those who had actually attempted suicide were
more likely to receive care. Low perceived need was the most important
reason for not seeking help (58%), followed by attitudinal barriers such
as the wish to handle the problem alone (40%) and structural barriers
such as financial concerns (15%). Only 7% of respondents endorsed stigma
as a reason for not seeking treatment.
Most people with suicide ideation, plans and attempts receive no
treatment. This is a consistent and pervasive finding, especially in
low-income countries. Improving the receipt of treatment worldwide will
have to take into account culture-specific factors that may influence the
process of help-seeking.
Burden-of-illness data, which are often used in setting healthcare policy-spending priorities, are unavailable for mental disorders in most countries.
To examine one central aspect of illness burden, the association of serious mental illness with earnings, in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys.
The WMH Surveys were carried out in 10 high-income and 9 low- and middle-income countries. The associations of personal earnings with serious mental illness were estimated.
Respondents with serious mental illness earned on average a third less than median earnings, with no significant between-country differences (χ2(9) = 5.5–8.1, P = 0.52–0.79). These losses are equivalent to 0.3–0.8% of total national earnings. Reduced earnings among those with earnings and the increased probability of not earning are both important components of these associations.
These results add to a growing body of evidence that mental disorders have high societal costs. Decisions about healthcare resource allocation should take these costs into consideration.