AsianScientist (Oct. 16, 2016) – The results of a major research initiative into mental health in Asia have been released to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
The Asia Pacific Mental Health Integration Index, commissioned by Janssen Asia Pacific and undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), compares and ranks the level of effort of 15 countries and territories across the Asia Pacific region in implementing effective mental health policies. These 15 countries are: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Index also looks at the services and programs available to assist people living with mental illness integrate more successfully into society.
The research highlights that the Index countries have experienced variable success in moving from the institutionalization of people living with mental illness to providing the care, services and environment necessary for them to participate more fully in their communities.
From a regional perspective, the report finds that:
- There is a need to improve access to mental health services
Across the region, less than half of those affected by mental illness receive any medical treatment. This is despite policymakers and governments having made attempts to prioritize the disease, and a shared aspiration across economies to treat those living with mental illness and to support their integration into the community. Access to mental health services is also still largely dictated by where a person lives, with a significant rural-urban divide, even in wealthier economies.
- Mental illness has economic consequences
There is a wide variance in how well Index countries support those living with mental illness, and trends in the findings point to an important link between national wealth and success in this area. The report confirms the economic burden that mental illness places on Asia Pacific economies: even among the best performing economies, Australia and New Zealand, mental illness knocks 3.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, off their GDP.
- There are gaps in epidemiological data
Another major conclusion in the report is the frequent lack of available data on mental illness prevalence. This is particularly the case in less economically-developed countries, where even basic data is often considered to be guesswork. While the more economically advanced economies do better with gathering statistics on mental illness, there is still a lack of data on outcomes.
- Persistence of stigma underscores the need for further action
The report finds that stigma against people with mental illness, especially severe conditions such as schizophrenia, remains pervasive across the region. The report notes that the integration of people living with mental illness will ultimately depend on cultural acceptance and anti-stigma efforts, which need to occur alongside the development of community-based infrastructure.
Source: Janssen Asia Pacific.
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