Nearly one in 10 people have a mental health disorder worldwide, but only one per cent of the global health workforce is working in mental health, World Health Organization’s Mental Health Atlas 2014 has revealed.
It observed that on average globally, there is less than one mental health worker or psychiatrist per 10,000 people.
The report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, said huge inequalities in access to mental health services exist depending on where people live.
The report said global spending on mental health is still very low; stating that low and middle-income countries spend less than $2 per capita per year on mental health, whereas high-income countries spend more than $50.
It said the majority of spending was going to mental hospitals, which serve a small proportion of those who need care.
According to the report, high-income countries still have a far higher number of mental hospital beds and admission rates than low-income countries at nearly 42 beds and 142 admissions per 100,000 population.
The report said the training of primary care staff in mental health is critical to building capacity for recognizing and treating persons with severe and common mental disorders.
It said since 2011, the number of nurses working in mental health had increased by 35 per cent, but shortages still exist in all disciplines, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
It said countries were making progress on creating policies, plans, and laws for mental health, which provide the bedrock for good governance and service development.
It said two-thirds of countries have a policy or plan and half have a stand-alone mental health law.
It noted however that most of the policies and laws are not fully in line with international human rights instruments, noting that implementation is often weak, and persons with mental disorders and family members are only marginally involved in their development.
In 2013, WHO launched the Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 with four objectives including strengthening leadership and governance for mental health; providing comprehensive mental health and social care services in community-based settings; implementing strategies to promote and prevent mental health; and strengthening information systems, evidence and research.
The WHO Mental Health Atlas provides the baseline data to measure progress on the action plan targets.
The 2014 edition is the fourth and newest edition, with data on the availability of mental health services and resources across the world, including financial allocations, human resources and specialized facilities for mental health from 171 countries.