Mental illnesses are complicated and multi-factorial disorders. This chapter of the book was done to determine the epidemiology of mental health problems in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). All electronic databases of studies done concerning mental disorders in the EMR (during the period from 1990 to 2019) were searched, scrutinized and summarized. Results revealed that EMR has higher rates of mental disorders compared to other regions of the world. This finding is mainly due to the unrest situation. The prevalence of mental illnesses in EMR ranged between 15.6% -35.5% (with higher rates in nations with complex emergency circumstances). Mental disorders were associated with 11.9 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) during the period from 1990-2013. Palestine, Djibouti and Somalia reported the highest DALYs in the region during such period. Regarding mortality, depression and schizophrenia resulted in high mortality rates. Studies reported that vulnerable groups to mental illnesses including females, poor unmarried individuals, elderly, those suffering from chronic illnesses, individuals exposed to conflicts or violations of human rights, and the refugees. Cultures affect mental illnesses in the EMR as stigma attached to mental disorders is one of the commonest reasons for not looking for mental care. On the other hand, studies illustrated presence of inverse associations between religious level and some mental illnesses. Improving mental health promotion programs, with scaling up of mental health services and addressing the barriers against receiving mental care are recommended. Decreasing stigma attached to people with mental illnesses is recommended and can be done through mass media, schools, universities, etc. Conflict resolutions and building mental health capacity of the countries with conflicts are needed.
Nahla Khamis Ibrahim
Professor at Community Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia &Professor at Epidemiology Department, High Institute of Public Health, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.
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