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University leads the way in global mental health development

The University of Melbourne's Centre for International Mental Health is leading the way in addressing a desperately needed and often overlooked area of aid: mental health, by becoming the first University to head the Secretariat of the Movement for Global Mental Health.

The Centre for International Mental Health at the University was selected by peer review to head the Global Movement made up of more than 80 Universities, Organisations and Institutions throughout the world dedicated to scaling up mental health services and raising awareness of this huge global need during the next three years.

Head of the Centre for International Mental Health Professor Harry Minas said despite World Health Organisation estimates that around five per cent of any population suffers from prolonged and serious mental health illness the desperate need for many health systems to adequately provide treatment and care for mental illness and improve their nation's mental health has been largely ignored.

"The high prevalence of mental disorders and loss of life from suicide around the world is staggering. For example, approximately 300,000 people commit suicide in Asia each year and the life expectancy of people with schizophrenia is 15- 20 years less than the general population," he said.

"Mental health issues are also the cause of massive losses in economic productivity as well as abject poverty and misery of so many people with mental disorders - most of whom have no access to treatment and care in low and middle-income countries."

Former World Health Organisation advisor John Mahoney is hopeful that the movement can make some real changes during the next three years.

"There is real momentum growing for the support of scaling up mental health services around the world, and this has a lot to do with the recent adoption by the UN General Assembly of a UN Resolution on global health and foreign policy which, for the first time, highlights mental health as a major area of importance. The issue is slowly making its way into the spotlight exactly where it needs to be."

The Movement's major activities over the next year include a Global Mental Health Summit in Cape Town in October and publication of the second Lancet Series on Global Mental Health. For more information about the Movement for Global Mental Health go to:


Contact: Emma O'Neill
University of Melbourne

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