Investing in Africa’s mental health improves lives — and the economy

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Investing in Africa’s mental health improves lives — and the economy

In reviewing to what extent the major social determinants of mental disorders are addressed by the SDGs, the study sheds new light on how the SDGs are relevant for addressing the social determinants of mental disorders, and how these goals could be optimised to prevent mental disorders.

The interruption of negative cycles of poverty, violence, environmental degradation, and mental disorders is possible, as is establishing virtuous cycles of mental health, wellbeing, and sustainable development. Evidence presented in the study indicates opportunities for action in demographic, economic, neighbourhood, environmental events, and social and cultural domains.

And there is more good news — the number of African countries with an existing mental-health policy has increased from less than 50% in 2001 to 75% in 2014. The next challenge is to implement these policies. The focus should be on the establishment of interventions that enable healthcare systems to care for people with mental-health problems, as part of integrated healthcare.

Evidence-based packages of services for people with mental disorders are needed that combine interventions with poverty alleviation measures and a commitment to the protection of human rights.

Investing in mental health means promoting resilience on the African continent. Mental health is both a means to social and economic development, and a worthy goal in itself.

• Prof Lund is the director at the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, University of Cape Town.


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