Module 1: Introduction to Global Mental Health

Millions of people worldwide struggle with mental health or behavioral disorders, making mental health a global public health concern. Though significant advances in mental health awareness and services have been made within the last decade, there is still a need to improve public understanding of mental health and mental health illnesses.  A thorough comprehension of global mental health issues begins with understanding the definition of mental health,  the relationship between determinants of mental health and global mental health issues, and the main strategies and approaches to address these issues and prevent mental illness. Furthermore, there is a strong link between mental and physical health, which indicates that mental and physical illness are related. The article “The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis,” explores this relationship in more detail; focusing on the introduction, results, discussion, and conclusion can increase your understanding of how mental health relates to physical health.

Another important concept in understanding mental health as a global issue involves past and current approaches to mental health. A brief review of the main milestones achieved by mental health is necessary to better understand how the processes, diagnosis, treatments, and awareness of mental health disorders has evolved during the entire history of mental health, up until the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed. These SDGs mark the first time that world leaders are recognizing the need to promote mental health as a health priority within a sustainable global development agenda. To achieve this, mental health disorders should be recognized as part of non-communicable diseases that affect the well-being of populations chronically. Therefore, to ensure healthy lives and promote mental well-being for people of all backgrounds and ages, a series of strategies must be implemented. These interventions are useful worldwide, despite the different socio-economic statuses that exist in the world, since all countries are considered to be developing countries in the context of mental health as explained here.

Unfortunately, despite the recent recognition of the importance of mental health in the global well-being of humans, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of health globally. According to statistics, nearly a billion people live with mental disorders and their burdens in an economic context, mainly due to the difficulties in screening and treatment and calls to strengthen information systems, evidence, and research for mental health.

The spectrum of mental disorders is vast and can be viewed from various approaches destined to define, understand and classify them. Once having learned the basics concepts of mental health, the next step is to analyze the strategies implemented in a personal context and how they relate to accomplishing the sustainable development goals of mental health.