Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Unmet mental health needs

In Brief

Unmet mental health needs

An analysis of a 17-country mental health survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that many people who need services are not receiving them. The problem is most pronounced in developing nations, but it exists even in wealthy countries. Trained lay interviewers conducted face-to-face surveys with 84,850 adults living in the community. The researchers analyzed the responses and concluded that the survey provides additional evidence that more mental health resources are needed worldwide, and that, in the meantime, countries will have to find ways to allocate scarce resources to those most in need of services.

Receiving appropriate services

The proportion of people with severe disorders who received mental health services that met minimum standards of care is shown above for four countries. Nigeria ranked worst of the 17 countries in this tally; Germany and the Netherlands ranked best.

Receiving any services

The proportion of people with severe disorders estimated to receive mental health services of any type in a 12-month period is shown above for three countries. China ranked worst of the 17 countries in this tally; Belgium ranked best.

Wang PS, et al. "Use of Mental Health Services for Anxiety, Mood, and Substance Disorders in 17 Countries in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys," Lancet (Sept. 8, 2007): Vol. 370, No. 9590, pp. 841–50.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »