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Global Health
October 17, 2017

Mental Health Burden Increasing in Eastern Mediterranean Region

JAMA. 2017;318(15):1431. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.15458

Most countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR) have seen an increase in the burden of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, as well as a rise in intentional injuries such as suicide, homicide, and sexual assault, from 1990 to 2015, according to 2 studies that appeared in the International Journal of Public Health.

In the first study, the international team of investigators analyzed data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2015 (GBD 2015) to estimate the burden of mental disorders in the EMR, which comprises 22 countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Iraq, and is inhabited by more than 600 million people. Overall, EMR countries had a higher burden of mental health disorders compared to global levels. Depression and anxiety disorders contributed most to the mental health burden. Women had a higher burden of mental disorders than men. An increasing mental health burden is mainly attributable to population growth and aging. A severe shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists in the region presents a challenge to epidemiological surveillance of mental disorders and adequate prevention and treatment services.

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