The global burden of mental disorders: An update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys

Ronald C. Kessler, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Jordi Alonso, Somnath Chatterji, Sing Lee, Johan Ormel, T. Bedirhan Üstün, Philip S. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

791 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim - The paper reviews recent findings from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys on the global burden of mental disorders. Methods - The WMH surveys are representative community surveys in 28 countries throughout the world aimed at providing information to mental health policy makers about the prevalence, distribution, burden, and unmet need for treatment of common mental disorders. Results - The first 17 WMH surveys show that mental disorders are commonly occurring in all participating countries. The inter-quartile range (IQR: 25th-75th percentiles) of lifetime DSM-IV disorder prevalence estimates (combining anxiety, mood, externalizing, and substance use disorders) is 18.1-36.1%. The IQR of 12-month prevalence estimates is 9.8-19.1%. Prevalence estimates of 12-month Serious Mental Illness (SMI) are 4-6.8% in half the countries, 2.3-3.6% in one-fourth, and 0.8-1.9% in one-fourth. Many mental disorders begin in childhood-adolescence and have significant adverse effects on subsequent role transitions in the WMH data. Adult mental disorders are found to be associated with such high role impairment in the WMH data that available clinical interventions could have positive cost-effectiveness ratios. Conclusions - Mental disorders are commonly occurring and often seriously impairing many countries throughout the world. Expansion of treatment could be cost-effective from both employer and societal perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalEpidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale
Volume18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Kessler, R. C., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J., Chatterji, S., Lee, S., Ormel, J., Üstün, T. B., & Wang, P. S. (2009). The global burden of mental disorders: An update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale, 18(1), 23-33.