Serious Mental Disorders Not Getting Treated

By Splete, Heidi | Clinical Psychiatry News, July 2004 | Go to article overview

Serious Mental Disorders Not Getting Treated


Splete, Heidi, Clinical Psychiatry News


Reallocation of treatment resources would have the greatest impact on the unmet needs of people with serious mental illness around the world, according to recent data from the WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium.

The survey of 60,463 community-dwelling adults in 14 countries showed that many people with serious disorders remain untreated, while most people with subthreshold disorders receive care.

The consortium sought to assess the extent and severity of untreated mental illness worldwide, especially in less developed countries, using face-to-face household surveys based on the World Mental Health version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the DSM-IV (JAMA 291[21]:2581-90, 2004).

The United States as a whole had the highest prevalence of adults with any mental disorder (26.4%), possibly because Americans are most likely to be diagnosed. The city of Shanghai, China, had the lowest (4.3%).

Anxiety disorders were the most common forms of mental illness in all countries except the Ukraine, where mood disorders were the most common.

When asked to comment on the survey, Dr. Rodrigo A. Munoz said the high prevalence in the United States is attributable at least in part to the greater awareness of Americans about mental illness. In addition, Americans are more interested in seeking treatment, especially if their condition affects their productivity and well-being.

Overall, the proportion of survey respondents with a serious disorder ranged from 0.4% in Nigeria to 7.7% in the United States. The proportion of survey respondents with a moderate disorder ranged from 0.5% in Nigeria to 9.4% in the United States, and the proportion with a mild disorder ranged from 1.8% in Shanghai, China, to 9.7% in France.

In most countries, most people receiving care had subthreshold disorders, defined as mild cases and noncases; the latter failed to meet DSM-IV criteria. …

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