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Towards a Healthier 2020: Advancing Mental Health as a Global Health Priority


Mental and behavioral disorders account for approximately 7.4 percent of the global burden of disease and represent the leading cause of disability worldwide. Intricately connected to educational achievement, overall health outcomes, and economic prosperity, mental and behavioral disorders have nonetheless largely been disregarded within the global health agenda. Recent efforts that more fully quantify the burden of mental and behavioral disorders, coupled with accumulating data of evidence-based approaches that successfully treat these disorders, even in low resource communities, serve as a cornerstone for envisioning a new era that prioritizes and integrates mental health in global health and development. A healthier 2020 depends on global collaboration, improved classification systems, expanded research networks that inform policy and practice globally, and innovative strategies to build capacity in terms of workforce and health care delivery systems. This work will require vigilance to combat ongoing stigma and vision to anticipate global demographic trends of an increasingly urban and ageing population. Such efforts have the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.


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Correspondence to Kathleen M. Pike PhD.

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Pike, K.M., Susser, E., Galea, S. et al. Towards a Healthier 2020: Advancing Mental Health as a Global Health Priority. Public Health Rev 35, 7 (2013).

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Key Words

  • Mental health
  • global health
  • behavioral disorders
  • disease burden
  • policy