Purpose of review
Despite being a relatively new discipline, global mental health (GMH) has made substantial advances, paying particular attention to optimising the provision of mental health services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Much of the work done in GMH has focused on low-income countries (LIC), but middle-income countries (MIC) such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, have particular characteristics that may impact the nature of this work. Here we examine key GMH issues, including mental health legislation, burden of disease, task-sharing, and mental health clinical and research capacity-building, in the MIC context.
In MICs there is particular concern about an increase in non-communicable diseases, including mental disorders. MICs have more resources than LICs, but the treatment gap in these settings remains significant. MICs are better equipped than LICs to mobilize task-sharing programs, and these can potentially include more highly educated community health workers. In MICs there have been important advances in mental health legislation, but more is needed regarding implementation and the promotion of human rights. Clinical and research capacity-building initiatives in MIC contexts are easier to establish and have potential to be more ambitious in scope.
GMH has developed important universal principles that apply across low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Nevertheless, particular issues in MICs may require moulding of more general GMH frameworks.