Expanding Worldwide Access to Mental Health Care

This paper examines the World Health Organization’s unsuccessful attempts to alleviate between-country inequalities in mental health care. Analyzing the WHO’s major mental health initiative, the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), I find that its failure to reduce the mental health care gap can be attributed to two underlying assumptions: first, that mental health care inequality originates from a lack of knowledge about mental disorders; and second, that the information provided by the mhGAP will spread across these countries on its own. The main focus of the mhGAP is to educate medical professionals. Yet the problem is more complex than just a lack of knowledge. Countries like China, South Africa, and India are facing issues based on the lack of resources, not just a cultural stigma against mental disorders or a lack of knowledge about mental disorders. It is important to note that even Western countries like the United States have a wealth of knowledge and the capacity to implement changes, but still see major inequalities. Only by implementing a combination of education and funding for the creation of additional mental healthcare programs and facilities can countries feasibility achieve reductions in inequality.