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Most Countries Have Inadequate Access To Mental Health Care: UN Report

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The health agency of the United Nations has called on both poor and rich nations of the world to allocate more funding for mental health care for the public, especially during financial crises when there is often a significant increase in suicide and depression rates.

According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) report entitled 2014 Mental Health Atlas that was released on Tuesday, one in every 10 people in the world suffer from a mental health disorder. However, there is only less than one mental health professional available to treat every 10,000 people.

For people living in low to middle-income nations, the situation is more difficult as there is only one mental health worker for every 100,000 citizens.

International spending for mental health care remains considerably low as low- and middle-income nations only allocate less than two dollars per capita every year for mental health. Countries that are considered to be high income earners, on the other hand, spend more than $50 for their people's mental health care.

The WHO said that the situation is compounded further by the significant number of people who are reported to suffer from various mental health disorders, which according to the agency's report, amounts to almost one in every 10 people in the world.

The United Nation's health agency confirmed that a significant inequality in terms of access to mental health services is present depending on where local people live. The organization said that close to half of the total population of the world lives in countries where there is less than one medical health professional for every 100,000 residents.

Despite this, the WHO highlighted [pdf] in its report that many nations in the world have begun making progress regarding the creation of policies to promote better mental health care for their people. The health agency said that this is the "bedrock" for service development and good governance.

Most of the laws and policies, however, are not entirely in line with international guidelines for human rights instruments, and they are not effectively implemented.

The release of the WHO's 2014 Mental Health Atlas report is the fourth edition in the agency's efforts to measure the progress of mental health care in different parts of the world. It follows the UN health organization's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 that was launched in 2013.

Photo: Jason Dickert | Flickr 

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