“Globally, the provision of mental health services remains very limited and far from equitable. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 75% of people with mental disorders live in low- or middle-income countries and the majority do not have access to any kind of care, despite evidence to support a range of cost-effective pharmacological, psychological, and social interventions.”
Mental disorders are a leading cause of the global burden of disease, and the provision of mental health services in developing countries remain very limited and far from equitable. Using the Creditor Reporting System, we estimate the amounts and patterns of development assistance for global mental health (DAMH) between 2007 and 2013. This allows us to examine how well international donors have responded to calls by global mental health advocates to scale up evidence-based services. Although DAMH did increase between 2007 and 2013, it remains low both in absolute terms and as a proportion of total development assistance for health (DAH). The average annual DAMH between 2007 and 2013 was US$133.57 million, and the proportion of DAH attributed to mental health is less than 1%. Approximately 48% of total DAMH was for humanitarian assistance, education, and civil services. More annual DAMH was channeled into the nonpublic sector than the public sector. Despite an expanding body of evidence suggesting that sustainable mental health care can be effectively integrated into existing health systems at relatively low cost, mental health has not received significant development assistance.