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Making Mental Health Count

The Social and Economic Costs of Neglecting Mental Health Care

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Despite the enormous burden that mental ill-health imposes on individuals, their families, society, health systems and the economy, mental health care remains a neglected area of health policy in too many countries. Mental disorders represent a considerable disease burden, and have a significant impact on the lives of the OECD population, and account for considerable direct and indirect costs. This report argues that even in those OECD countries with a long history of deinstitutionalisation, there is still a long way to go to make community-based mental health care that achieves good outcomes for people with severe mental illness a reality. The disproportionate focus on severe mental illness has meant that mild-to-moderate mental illnesses, which makes up the largest burden of disease, have remained overwhelmingly neglected. This book addresses the high cost of mental illness, weaknesses and innovative developments in the organisation of care, changes and future directions for the mental health workforce, the need to develop better indicators for mental health care and quality, and tools for better governance of the mental health system. The high burden of mental ill health and the accompanying costs in terms of reduced quality of life, loss of productivity, and premature mortality, mean that making mental health count for all OECD countries is a priority.

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Improving quality measurement and data collection for mental health

Mental disorders account for a large burden of disease and addressing unmet need by delivering high-quality targeted interventions will greatly improve the outcomes and efficiency of mental health services. Mortality indicators such as suicide and premature mortality provide important information on mental health status and the interplay of mental and physical health, but more specific indicators are necessary to reflect the quality of mental health care. Measuring and improving the quality of mental health care is a key challenge not least given the need to capture complex care pathways and encompass a range of outcomes. Numerous ongoing and completed projects seek to measure and benchmark the quality and outcomes of mental health care at an international level in spite of the many challenges faced by such endeavors. Moreover, considerable progress in developing quality and outcomes indicators as well as mental health targets and standards has occurred at a national level. Better quality and outcome indicators are crucial for measuring and improving the quality and efficiency of mental health care yet progress in developing such data has fallen far behind other disease areas.

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