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Next: Harnessing information and communications technology (ICT) to address mental health challenges affecting 700 million people today

Global mental healthMak­ing Men­tal Health a Glob­al Pri­or­i­ty (The Dana Foun­da­tion):

Who hasn’t felt a sense of loss or detach­ment from our fam­i­lies, friends, and reg­u­lar rou­tines, or expe­ri­enced ner­vous­ness and anx­i­ety about changes in our per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al lives? For some, fear and wor­ry con­stant­ly dis­tract, con­fuse, and agi­tate. For oth­ers, fre­quent and severe bouts of depres­sion are a debil­i­tat­ing dai­ly bur­den that inter­feres with fam­i­ly, career, and social respon­si­bil­i­ties. All too often, such prob­lems lead to alco­hol or drug abuse, self-destruc­tive behav­ior, or even suicide…The social costs of men­tal- and sub­stance-use dis­or­ders, includ­ing depres­sion, anx­i­ety, schiz­o­phre­nia, and drug and alco­hol abuse, are enor­mous. Stud­ies esti­mate that at least 10 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is affect­ed, includ­ing 20 per­cent of chil­dren and ado­les­cents. The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO) esti­mates that men­tal dis­or­ders account for 30 per­cent of non-fatal dis­ease bur­den world­wide and 10 per­cent of over­all dis­ease bur­den, includ­ing death and dis­abil­i­ty…

Infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy (ICT) can be a use­ful instru­ment for glob­al men­tal health. It offers alter­na­tive modes of men­tal health care deliv­ery when resources are scarce, and new ways to address long-stand­ing obsta­cles that hin­der access to care, such as trans­porta­tion bar­ri­ers, stig­ma asso­ci­at­ed with vis­it­ing men­tal health clin­ics, clin­i­cian short­ages, and high costs. These plat­forms, espe­cial­ly in mobile for­mats, can offer remote screen­ing, diag­no­sis, mon­i­tor­ing, and treat­ment, and remote train­ing for non-spe­cial­ist health­care work­ers. They can be instru­men­tal in devel­op­ing and deliv­er­ing high­ly spe­cif­ic, con­tex­tu­al­ized inter­ven­tions. Over­all, ICT for men­tal health has a poten­tial­ly impor­tant sup­port­ing func­tion for spe­cial­ized care and com­mu­ni­ty men­tal-health care, and could enhance and enable infor­mal approach­es and self-care as well…Governments should work with the pri­vate sec­tor, acad­e­mia, and the med­ical estab­lish­ment to devel­op and adapt these tools to advance the men­tal health agen­da.

…As we move for­ward with this task, we should be guid­ed by the belief that the ago­nies of men­tal health prob­lems that blight and dis­tort lives and com­mu­ni­ties and that impose a heavy eco­nom­ic and social bur­den on the plan­et can be dealt with effectively—if there is polit­i­cal com­mit­ment, broad social engage­ment, addi­tion­al fund­ing, and inter­na­tion­al sup­port to make men­tal health an inte­gral part of health care and pro­mo­tion across the globe.”

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