India & China Bear A Third Of Global Mental Illness Burden

India and China’s disease burdens for mental, neurological and substance use disorders are greater than in all high-income countries combined, says a study.

AsianScientist (May 25, 2016) – About one-third of the global disease burden for mental, neurological and substance use disorders occurs in India and China, according to researchers in Australia.

The researchers, who published their results in The Lancet, found that most people with mental illness in these countries do not receive appropriate treatment and that there is an urgent need for improved prevention, early identification and treatment programs.

The present study is one of three papers to mark the launch of the China-India Mental Health Alliance, a long-term project bringing together experts from China and India to look at the current status of mental health and mental health services in both countries. The papers are the first of several publications to be released over the coming year.

Researchers from the University of Queensland School of Public Health analyzed data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 to shed light on the growing issue of mental illness in India and China, which is greater than in all high-income countries combined.

Research fellow Dr. Fiona Charlson said the burden of mental illness would increase more rapidly in India than in China over the next ten years due to population growth rates.

“We estimate that in 2025, 38.1 million years of healthy life will be lost to mental illness in India—a 23 percent increase—and 39.6 million healthy years will be lost in China—a ten percent increase,” Charlson said.

She said the most common disorders are depression and anxiety, accounting for 37 percent of all mental, neurological and substance use disorders in India and 30 percent in China.

“The burden peaks between 15 years and 34 years of age in India, but in China it is much more sustained throughout adulthood and increases abruptly in people aged 60 and older,” she said.

This is consistent with the higher proportion of older adults in China.

“India and China jointly account for 38 percent of the world’s population, so it is essential that public health policy makers understand the burden attributed to mental, neurological and substance use disorders in these countries,” said Charlson.

She said dementia was a growing problem for both countries, and it was estimated that from 2013 to 2025, the number of healthy years lost to dementia would increase by 82 percent in India and 56 percent in China.

“Community engagement, increased support for community health workers and collaboration with traditional and alternative medicine practitioners are key to providing more accessible, affordable, and acceptable mental health care in India and China,” she said.

“The current and projected burden of mental, neurological and substance use disorders in India and China warrants the urgent prioritization of programs focused on targeted prevention, early identification, and effective treatment.”

The article can be found at: Charlson et al. (2016) The Burden of Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders in China and India: A Systematic Analysis of Community Representative Epidemiological Studies.


Source: University of Queensland; Photo: Shutterstock.
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