Scaling up services for mental and neurological disorders in low-resource settings

Int Health. 2009 Sep;1(1):37-44. doi: 10.1016/j.inhe.2009.02.002.


Mental and neurological disorders (MNDs) account for a large, and growing, burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries. Most people do not have access to even basic health care for these disorders. Recent evidence shows that task-shifting to non-specialist community health workers is a feasible and effective strategy for delivery of efficacious treatments for specific MND in low-resource settings. New global initiatives, such as the WHO's mental health Gap Action Program, are utilizing this evidence to devise packages of care for specific MNDs. This paper describes a plan that seeks to integrate the evidence on the treatment of specific MNDs, based on a task-shifting paradigm, for scaling up services for MNDs at the level of a defined population. The plan was developed by a state government in India in collaboration with technical partners, as a model District Mental Health Program for India's National Mental Health Program.