Setting up mental health care in developing countries. A description of intervention
and policy options at several levels
background In developing countries psychiatric disorders are a major cause of disability and reduced economic productivity.
aim To present an overview of intervention and policy options in mental health care in developing countries.
method We searched the literature using PubMed, supplementing our finding with what we have learned from experience in the field.
results Research data, though very limited, indicate that psychiatric disorders can be treated effectively in developing countries. Mental health care can be provided at three different levels: at the level of the existing health care system, at primary care level and at community level. We discuss interventions at each of these levels on the basis of three cases.
conclusion More research is needed into the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of mental health care interventions in developing countries; research must be accompanied by the actual implementation of mental health programmes in these countries.