Mental health systems in countries: where are we now?
More than 85% of the world's population lives in 153 low-income and middle-income countries (LAMICs). Although country-level information on mental health systems has recently become available, it still has substantial gaps and inconsistencies. Most of these countries allocate very scarce financial resources and have grossly inadequate manpower and infrastructure for mental health. Many LAMICs also lack mental health policy and legislation to direct their mental health programmes and services, which is of particular concern in Africa and South East Asia. Different components of mental health systems seem to vary greatly, even in the same-income categories, with some countries having developed their mental health system despite their low-income levels. These examples need careful scrutiny to derive useful lessons. Furthermore, mental health resources in countries seem to be related as much to measures of general health as to economic and developmental indicators, arguing for improved prioritisation for mental health even in low-resource settings. Increased emphasis on mental health, improved resources, and enhanced monitoring of the situation in countries is called for to advance global mental health. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.