Express Pharma: Mental Health - A challenge and an opportunity
In this guest blog for Express Pharma, Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director of the Access to Medicine Foundation, writes that mental health must be prioritised as a development issue in order to address a major public health challenge.
It is estimated that over a billion people are likely to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, with 80 per cent from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most receive no help – no medicines, no professional support – while they and their families battle not only against disease but also against ingrained social stigmas. This causes enormous social suffering and economic burden, with estimated losses greater than that of cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases combined, costing the world economy an estimated $2.5 trillion a year.
Effective treatments to help manage these conditions do exist. However, a lack of awareness of mental health problems, the difficulty of access to appropriate health products, poor infrastructure and capabilities make medicines accessible a formidable challenge in LMICs, and one that is often neglected.