Sunday, October tenth, was World Mental Health Day. This year's observance centered on the relationship between mental health and chronic physical conditions like diabetes and cancer. The World Health Organization says more than four hundred fifty million people suffer from poor mental health. The most common disorders are depression and schizophrenia. Mental health experts also include other disorders like drug and alcohol abuse that affect millions of people. Elena Berger is with the World Federation for Mental Health. That organization, based in the United States, held the first World Mental Health Day in nineteen ninety-two. Mrs. Berger says mental health problems are most severe in poor countries that lack the resources to deal with them. She says in developing countries, a huge number of people, up to eighty-five percent, cannot get any form of mental health treatment. Experts say about half of all mental health problems first appear before the age of fifteen. The countries with the highest percentages of young people are in the developing world. That means they are also the countries with the poorest levels of mental health resources. The WHO says many low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every one to four million people.Worldwide, depression is the leading mental health problem, and a leading cause of disability. In two thousand two, the World Health Organization estimated that more than one hundred fifty-four million people suffered from depression. But Elena Berger from the mental health federation says other kinds of diseases often get more attention. She says people pay more attention to communicable diseases and not enough attention to mental health conditions. She says these are real disabilities where people are not able to work to their full ability and cannot earn an income. So there is a strong effect on families as well. Mrs. Berger says her organization and the WHO are pushing to have governments include mental health care in their development goals. She says this could greatly improve the availability of treatment and services worldwide. She says people with mental disabilities would be recognized as groups that need special support and not be excluded and ignored.
For VOA Special English I'm Alex Villarreal.