What is the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)?

Introduction

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims at scaling up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries especially with low- and middle-income.

Background

Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected – 75% in many low-income countries – do not have access to the treatment they need.

As such, the programme asserts that with proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions could be treated for depression, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, prevented from suicide and begin to lead normal lives – even where resources are scarce.

The following overview is from the WHO ‘mhGAP Mental Health Gap Programme: Scaling Up Care for Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders’ published on 01 January 2008:

Mental, neurological and substance use disorders are highly prevalent and burdensome globally. The gap between what is urgently needed and what is available to reduce the burden is still very wide.

WHO recognizes the need for action to reduce the burden, and to enhance the capacity of Member States to respond to this growing challenge. mhGAP is WHO’s action plan to scale up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries especially with low and lower middle incomes. The priority conditions addressed by mhGAP are: depression, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, suicide, epilepsy, dementia, disorders due to use of alcohol, disorders due to use of illicit drugs, and mental disorders in children. The mhGAP package consists of interventions for prevention and management for each of these priority conditions.

Successful scaling up is the joint responsibility of governments, health professionals, civil society, communities, and families, with support from the international community. The essence of mhGAP is building partnerships for collective action. A commitment is needed from all partners to respond to this urgent public health need and the time to act is now!

References/Further Reading

WHO mhGAP Mental Health Gap Action Programme: Scaling Up Care for Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders (WHO site; published 01 January 2008).

Outline of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) (WHO site).

Clinical Review: WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Intervention Guide: A Systematic Review of Evidence from Low and Middle-Income Countries (BMJ Journals: Evidence-Based Mental Health).

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