World Health Organization launches forum on community services for mental health

1 June 2005

Concerned about the high number of people worldwide living with mental disorders, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is establishing the first global forum about community health services that offer an alternative to psychiatric hospitals.

Concerned about the high number of people worldwide living with mental disorders, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is establishing the first global forum about community health services that offer an alternative to psychiatric hospitals.

From now through the end of September, WHO is encouraging health care professionals, individuals and family members of people affected by mental disorders to contact the agency about which projects and services they think work and which projects they believe are not successful.

Some of these submissions will then be published in a report that will highlight the key issues and also those psychosocial rehabilitation services considered most effective, according to a statement issued today by WHO from its headquarters in Geneva. An international conference on the issues will follow.

Benedetto Saraceno, WHO’s Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said it was vital to obtain first-hand knowledge of where and how improvements can be made in delivering mental health services.

“This is an innovative approach to finding out what works and what doesn’t in community-based psychosocial rehabilitation,” he said.

WHO estimates that about 450 million people around the world suffer from some form of mental disorder. In 2001 it issued a report calling for psychiatric hospitals to be replaced by community-based services, noting they provide better and earlier care, reduce the stigma of mental health problems, are more cost-effective, and allow sufferers to remain in the same community as their friends and families.

 

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