World Health Day puts mental illness in spotlight

The official logo of the World Health Organisation's World Health Day. WHO 2001

Debates have been held around Switzerland on the problems of mental illness to mark Saturday's World Health Day.

This content was published on April 7, 2001 minutes

A public symposium, organised by Geneva University Hospitals, brought together some of Switzerland's leading doctors and mental health specialists to highlight scientific progress made during research into mental illness.

A round table discussion about the relationship between human rights and mental health was held at Geneva's Palais des Nations, while in Lausanne an open discussion led by mental illness sufferers was followed by a debate on the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease.

The global day of events has been organised under the auspices of the Geneva-based World Health Organisation (WHO).

Many countries around the world, a WHO report indicates, are "ill-equipped and unprepared to cope with the predicted worldwide rise in mental and neurological disorders."

According to a survey into the state of global mental health research, 78 of the WHO's 191 member states have no mental health policy at all, while 37 countries have no legislation on mental health.

The figures are part of an ongoing WHO project to collect information on mental health resources around the world.

More than 400 million people suffer from mental disorders or psychological problems which are often related to alcohol and drug abuse, claims the organisation.

"This information is a wake-up call for the world," said Benedetto Saraceno, director of the department of mental health at the WHO, "and it paints a dismal picture of neglect and a severe lack of resources."

"The sooner we face up to this reality, the more prepared we will be to provide care and cure."


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