Reducing Stigma to Improve Mental Health

Mental illness, neurological disorders and substance use disorders – these three conditions account for 14% of the global burden of disease. Often mistakenly believed to be more prevalent in high-income countries, mental health conditions affect individuals all over the world with 75% of affected persons living in low- and middle-income countries. Because less than 1% of government spending in low-income countries is allocated to mental health services, these individuals often lack access to care.

In many countries, a dearth of mental health services and trained providers is exacerbated by the stigma associated with mental illness and related health conditions. Training programs that build the capacity of the mental health workforce like HVO’s mental health care project in Bhutan is just one piece of the puzzle. To close the mental health care gap, we must reduce the stigma associated with utilization of mental health services both at home and abroad.

The theme of the World Mental Health Day 2017 campaign is “Mental Health in the Workplace.” Changing the culture surrounding mental health in the workplace is a critical step toward removing stigma as a barrier to care. A reduction in stigma coupled with an increase in trained mental health care providers can help ensure that individuals around the world living with mental illness, neurological disorders and substance use disorders gain access to the treatment and support they need.

Learn more about HVO’s mental health program, and volunteer to help build the capacity of the mental health workforce in Bhutan.

Not a mental health care provider? Use the HVO project finder to identify a project that fits your skills and qualifications, or donate to support the work of HVO volunteers at sites around the globe!

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