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Global preventive measures

Prevention of mental disorders is essential as we've shown previously that the impact of mental disorders on society, families and individuals is not negligible, so we've to take real steps in the way of prevention. Prevention needs cooperation of different organizations and countries in order to come up with a real solution.

Mental disorder prevention aims at "reducing incidence, prevalence, recurrence of mental disorders, and the time spent with symptoms, or the risk condition for a mental illness, preventing or delaying recurrences and also decreasing the impact of illness in the affected person, their families and the society" (Mrazek & Haggerty, 1994).

About 450 million people suffer from mental and behavioral disorders worldwide. One person in four will develop one or more of these disorders during their lifetime. Mental disorders represent not only an immense psychological, social and economic burden to society, but also Increase the risk of physical illnesses. There is a wide range of evidence-based preventive programmes and policies available for Implementation. These have been found to reduce risk factors, strengthen protective factors and decrease psychiatric symptoms and disability of some mental disorders. They also Improve positive mental health, contribute to better physical health and generate social and economic benefits. These multi-outcome interventions illustrate that prevention can be cost-effective.

Research is beginning to show significant long-term outcomes. Making effective programmes and policies widely available would provide countries and communities with a spectrum of preventive tools to tackle mental disorders. It is therefore imperative to develop an accessible and integrated system of international and national databases to provide governmental and nongovernmental agencies with information on evidence-based programmes and policies, their outcomes and conditions for effective implementation.

Financial support should be allocated to the implementation of evidence-based prevention programmes and policies and to the development of required infrastructures. In addition, investments in capacity building at the country level should be promoted, providing training and creating a workforce of informed professionals. Much of this investment will need to come from governments, as they have the ultimate responsibility for population health.

Adverse conditions such as child abuse, violence, war, discrimination, poverty and lack of access to education have a significant impact on the development of mental ill-health and the onset of mental disorders. Actions and policies that improve the protection of basic human rights represent a powerful preventive strategy for mental disorders.

There is evidence that mental and physical illnesses may accompany, follow, or precede one another as well as evidence indicating that mental disorders increase the risk of physical illness and vice versa.

Mental health promotion often refers to positive mental health, considering mental health as a resource, as a value on its own and as a basic human right essential to social and economic development. Mental health promotion aims to impact on determinants of mental health so as to increase positive mental health, to reduce inequalities, to build social capital, to create health gain and to narrow the gap in health expectancy between countries and groups (Jakarta Declaration for Health Promotion, WHO, 1997).

Mental disorder prevention has as its target the reduction of symptoms and ultimately of mental disorders. It uses mental health promotion strategies as one of the means to achieve these goals.

Mental health promotion when aiming to enhance positive mental health in the community may also have the secondary outcome of decreasing the incidence of mental disorders. Positive mental health serves as a powerful protective factor against mental illness.

Prevention and promotion elements are often present within the same programmes and strategies, involving similar activities and producing different but complementary outcomes.

Since mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention both deal primarily with the enhancement of mental health and the influence of its antecedents, they should be understood as conceptually distinct but interrelated approaches.