Essay on Poverty and Common Mental Disorders in Developing Countries

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The two most striking take-home messages from this paper are: common mental disorders should be looked at on par with other diseases associated with poverty (like tuberculosis); treatment and prevention of mental diseases should involve confronting poverty and economic development, apart from the medical interventions. The rest of the paper provides a discussion of the evidence backing these points and the ways in which they can be implemented. These conclusions and the reasons why they are remarkable are discussed in this critique.
This is a review of 11 community studies on the association between poverty and common mental disorders in six low- and middle-income countries published in English-language journals since 1990 and three
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However, they qualify this statement, maintaining that this is not a final conclusion since the review contained a small number of studies, none of them longitudinal.
The first important implication this paper emphasizes is that there is a strong need for mental diseases to be looked at on par with other diseases associated with poverty. There is no doubt today that mental disorders form a significant public health burden (WHO report, 2001). One category of mental illness – unipolar depressive disorders – is placed third among leading causes of burden of disease in terms of Disability Adjusted Life-Years (DALYs) globally (Global Burden of Disease, WHO, 2004). This is more than that for ischemic heart diseases or even HIV/AIDS. Yet, there is a big discrepancy between the magnitude of mental illness burden (especially in low- and middle-income countries) and the resources devoted to addressing it (Tomlinson, 2009). At the root of this issue is the stigma associated with mental illness. Public stigma and internalized stigma (negative attitudes held by stigmatized individuals about themselves) associated with having a mental illness negatively affect a person’s attitude and intentions toward seeking mental health services (Conner, 2010). Stigma also affects the way policy makers and donors perceive the need to allocate funds and resources to a cause. If common mental disorders are viewed
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