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 PAHO and the Reformulation of Mental Health in the Americas

Mapping Mental Health: Core Data

The aim of the World Health Organization's Project Atlas, launched in 2000, is to map the availability of mental health resources throughout the world, and thus provide an overview of the situation for each country.

Evidence from this study indicates that many countries are not prepared to cope with the expected global increase in mental and behavioral disorders, due to a lack of policies, programs, resources or capacity.

Of the countries studied:

  • 41% lacked a mental health policy;
  • 25% lacked mental health legislation;
  • 28% lacked a separate mental health budget;
  • 41% lacked treatment centers for serious mental disorders in primary care;
  • 37% lacked community health centers; and
  • 65% of the beds for the mentally ill in these countries were in psychiatric hospitals.

General overview:

  • One in four people will suffer from a mental or neurological disorder at some point in his/her life;
  • Some 450 million people currently suffer from these disorders;
  • Depression afflicts 121 million people, and epilepsy 50 million, while 24 million people suffer from schizophrenia;
  • 1 million people commit suicide every year; between 10 and 20 million attempt it.

The 10 Recommendations
(World Health Report 2001)

  • Provide treatment in primary care
  • Make psychotropic drugs available
  • Give care in the community
  • Educate the public
  • Involve communities, families, and consumers
  • Establish national policies, programs, and legislation
  • Develop human resources
  • Links with other sectors
  • Monitor community mental health
  • Support more research

Source: The World Health Report 2001 - Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope

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For more information please contact , PAHO Public Information, tel. 202-974-3699.

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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