Mental and behavioural disorders are common, and affect more than 25% of all people at some time during their lives. Mental disorders are alio universal, and affect people of all countries and societies, individuals at all ages, women and men, and the rich and the poor from urban and rural environments. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder. Suicide is a leading cause of death in many regions of the world and there is also a ruing trend for suicides in these regions. It is estimated that mental disorders contribute a large share to the Global Disease Burden, and account for 33% of the years lived with disability worldwide. This burden caused by neuropsychiatric disorders is expected to increase over the years and will soon surpass the burden posed by HIV/AIDS. The resources available in the form of trained mental health professionals and psychiatric services are, and will continue to be, woefully inadequate to meet the needs posed by the increasing burden. The World Health Organization in its Mental Health Global Action Programme (WHO mhGAP) has outlined the needs of those with mental health problems and the actions that are required to meet these needs. This paper provides an elaboration of a presentation at an international consultation, and the ensuing recommendations of ways in which churches could play a significant role in partnering the WHO mhGAP in bridging the ever-widening gap between resources and needs in mental health. Could mental health be the new frontier that revitalizes the commitment of the church and its congregations to the healing ministry?
International Review of Mission, 2006, 95, (376/377), pp. 36-49, [DOI: 10.1111/j.1758-6631.2006.tb00536.x]