Global Health is defined as: The health of populations in a global context and transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations.
It tackles the most important health problems globally based on the
concept of health equity and ethics of health as a human right access.
Mental health, has become an important part of global health that led to
the development of the concept of Global Mental Health.
According to the Movement for Global Mental Health website, the
initiative started a “network of individuals and organizations that aim
to improve services for people living with mental health problems and
psychosocial disabilities worldwide, especially in low- and
middle-income countries where effective services are often scarce.”
This has now expanded to include all countries that has mental illnesses
as a problem needing better, prevention, detection and treatment at the
Traditionally, mental health issues have received less
attention or support in the medical setting in general and in low
resources countries in specific. This is not surprising given the lack
of clear physical signs of the disease or biomarkers to document mental
illness compared to other physical diseases. However, the link between
physical and mental health has been formally supported through empirical
evidence as recently as 2007 (Patel, 2012). The World Health
Organization (WHO) endorses this perspective with the phrase: “no health
without mental health” (Prince, et al, 2007). The organization
advocates for strengthened delivery of mental health treatments
particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and implemented the
WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGap) in 2008. This project aims
to scale up services for the 75% percent of people worldwide who do not
receive services for their mental health issues. Further, 14% of the
global burden of disease includes mental illnesses. According to global
health and development goals and policies on adolescents, suicide is the
third most important cause of death among adolescents and depression is
the number one cause of morbidity among those 10-14 years of age (WHO
There was almost a 38 per cent increase in the global burden
for depressive disorders between 1990 and 2010 (Ferrari et al 2013).
The authors report that “This has important implications for global
health, especially in developing countries where increased life
expectancy due to better reproductive health, nutrition, and control of
childhood infectious diseases means more of the population are living to
the age where depressive disorders are prevalent”.
However, it is important to note the research findings on
mental illnesses was based on the rate at which people were diagnosed
with clinical mental illnesses, rather than actual rates of such
illnesses. In other words, people who live in countries where there is
greater access to mental health services are obviously more likely to be
diagnosed at a higher rate.
Our initiative takes seriously the call of health organizations and researchers to prioritize global mental health.
“Global health emphasizes global learning; thus, while
international health was built on the tradition of what the ‘developed
world’ could teach those in the ‘developing world,’ global health
emphasizes what all countries can learn from each other and do together
to address the health of all the people who must share our