Exploring World Mental Health

October 9, 2019


Mental Illness Awareness Week occurs in the first full week of October. This year, we’re focusing on the breaking down the barriers that prevent people with mental health issues from receiving adequate treatment. One in three people worldwide will experience disruptions in their mental health over the course of their lives. Yet most people in need of psychological services do not receive professional help.

We’ve put together a reading list of articles which expose a number of barriers to treatment of mental illness – including stigma, financial constraints, and global inequalities – and explore potential strategies to overcome these obstacles. With some of the solutions here, we can began to address these issues.

Essential Reading

Treatment Gap: Barriers to Providing and Receiving Services 
This article exposes the gap between mental health services that are needed and those that are provided. It examines the key problems and impediments that currently exist, and which new models of treatment and delivery could help surmount current barriers.

Barriers and Facilitators to Acceptance of Mental Illness 
In this piece, the authors ask people with serious mental illness to talk about what has helped them feel acceptance, and what tends to stand in their way.

Acceptance of Mental Illness Among Women: Intersectional Stigma 
Follow two case narratives that address and highlight issues of intersectionality in the process of acceptance among women with serious mental illness.

Addressing Mental Health Stigma 
Because stigma is such a prominent barrier to care among military personnel and veterans, considerable effort has been directed toward combating faulty assumptions and beliefs that are assumed to underlie mental health stigma

The stigma attached to mental illness can prevent people from seeking treatment. Fear of disclosing one’s mental or substance use disorder is the most commonly reported reason for people, especially youth, not seeking help. This piece summarizes research on stigma for the general population, and addresses specific issues facing young people.

Barriers to Mental Health Service Use in Young Adulthood 
In this chapter the authors discuss two sets of barriers to mental health treatment that we hypothesize explain the gap between need for and actual use of services: (1) barriers relating to normative influences, which dissuade young adults from seeking treatment and/or suggest alternate ways of dealing with stress and distress; and (2) logistical barriers, which either preclude use of services or limit their effectiveness.

Global Perspectives on Mental Health Care 
There is a large disparity in the degree to which countries acknowledge the importance of mental health and support work in this area. While no country has exemplary mental health care, this article reviews how various nations have worked to improve mental health for their citizens.

In My Voice: Speaking Out About Mental Health and Stigma 
In his stirring contribution, psychologist Jeffrey Liew tackles the shame and stigma of admitting mental illness in Chinese-American culture.

Overcoming Stigma II: Media and Mental Health Professionals 
This piece discusses strategies geared toward altering negative portrayals of mental illness in various forms of public media. Such strategies are important for those interested in stigma reduction. The article addresses the need for mental health professionals to confront their own views toward mental illness and promote change.

Mental and Neurological Remediation 
Recognizing the vague overlap between psychiatry and neurology, this chapter highlights the current crisis in mental health and underscores the promise and appeal of cognitive training and remediation programs à la “Iceman.” Such approaches may increase the effectiveness of existing treatment options, including medication, by acting directly on our physiology.

Mental Illness: Worldwide  
Mental health issues are a major public health concern. The indirect costs to the global economy of mental illness—encompassing productivity and the spending on mental health services and other direct costs—amount to approximately $2.5 trillion a year. By 2030 it is expected that depression will be the leading cause of the global disease burden. This article outlines the scope of the problem and possible interventions to help combat this health crisis.

Cultural Competency in Mental-Health Services  
Disparities in access and quality in health and mental health services and treatment outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities have been well documented. This entry chronicles the history of mental health services and the development of cultural competency in social work practice. It then discusses mental health services use and barriers to access among racial and ethnic minorities.

Mental Health Parity 
While we have come a long way in some respects from the medieval asylums of old, when we look at the plight of those with mental illness who are homeless or are in jail or prison, we really must ask ourselves, “how far have we really come?”

Barriers to Mental Healthcare Utilization 
Our goal with respect to barriers to mental healthcare utilization in older persons is to provide an overview of the current literature, highlight gaps in that literature, and highlight unique and innovative programmes for which there is empirical support.

Mental and Physical Health Consequences of the Stigma Associated with Mental Illnesses 
People with mental illnesses experience physical illness and premature mortality at much higher rates compared to people without such illnesses. This chapter proposes that the stigma of mental illness comprises an important set of causes of this physical health disparity.

Ethics in Mental Health Care: A Public Health Perspective 
This chapter explores ethical issues in mental health policy from a public health perspective. It shifts the focus of ethical discourse to the population level and to the values that ought to be sought in a system for delivering mental health services, such as enhancing access, promoting recovery and empowerment, and nurturing community integration.

Pathways to Care: Needs, Attitudes, Barriers 
Addressing the need–treatment gap in mental health care calls for a concerted effort to eradicate the attitudinal, knowledge, and financial barriers to seeking such care and to create responsive, accessible, affordable, and effective services in communities throughout the United States and around the world.

From the OUPBlog

A few questions for Stephen Hinshaw 

Telemental health: Are we there yet? 

Step 3 to end military suicides: Reduce stigma 

Fatherhood and mental health 

The stigma of mental illness 

Mental health and human rights