Why Mental Health Matters
About 450 million people suffer from mental disorders including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression or schizophrenia. Traditional health surveillance has grossly underestimated the number of people living with mental and neurological disorders such as dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease, according to the World Health Organization. Mental and neurological disorders account for an estimated 11% of the global disease burden, and these numbers will grow as the population ages. Traumatic events such as natural and man-made disasters, wars, and migration also increase post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems. North Carolina, the United States, and countries around the world face acute shortages of mental health treatments and crisis centers. In many places, people with mental illnesses and cognitive disorders also face stigma, greater interactions with criminal justice systems, and human rights abuses.
Finding ways to improve systems and services for people with serious mental illness is an area of focus for researchers across the Gillings School. For example, among people infected with HIV, depression affects 20-30% and is a barrier to accessing HIV care, remaining adherent to HIV treatment, and maintaining long-term health. While depression is widely recognized as a major concern for those living with HIV, worldwide more than 75% of those needing mental health care are going untreated due to lack of specialized personnel, stigma around receiving mental health services, and other concerns. Our faculty are measuring the potential benefit of expanding access to effective depression treatment for HIV patients and developing innovative models of care to integrate evidence-based depression treatment into HIV clinical care.
Additional Research in the Field of Mental Health and Neurological Disorders