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Citing 'urgent, acute' mental health issues, especially in Africa, experts petition gov'ts to act
Date:6/20/2014

As well, the plans need to take a "life-course" approach, "recognizing that there are different needs at different stages in life such as pregnancy, infancy, childhood and older age, and that investment in early intervention can reduce later disability."

Targeted action is required to address specific needs of women, the very poor, the homeless, and other groups, many of them "historically neglected." "Such specific focus is necessary because these groups may have different risk factors, disease prevalence, and help-seeking behaviors."

Among other recommendations, national strategic plans should

  • Be "person-centered and holistic, providing psychological and social care as well as improving access to biomedical services;
  • Respond to the mental health consequences of violence in society, especially against women and children;
  • Provide evidence-based and culturally appropriate care; and
  • Pay particular attention to the link between mental health and other health and development priorities like HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health: "Integrating mental health into other health and development initiatives provides an opportunity to improve outcomes in other sectors, while allowing efficient investment in mental health through these other programs."
  • Ensure availability of essential mental health medications and basic services; and
  • Develop robust legislation against inhumane practices, such as institutionalization, imprisonment, isolation, discrimination in access to public goods, and other violations of human rights.

Some countries such as South Africa and Ethiopia have made progress in developing national mental health policy frameworks and strategic plans, offering other African countries a useful model to adopt, complemented by the WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.

The public may
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
University Health Network at the University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

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