September 11, 2013 –The burden of mental illness is a major
issue in Ontario
and across the globe, according to two recently published studies co-authored
by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
In a new study published in The Lancet, researchers found
that, globally, the burden of mental and substance use disorders increased by
approximately 38 per cent between 1990 and 2010. After reviewing data collected for both
sexes, from over 20 age groups in 187 countries, the researchers estimated that
mental and substance use disorders were the leading cause of disability
world-wide, accounting for approximately
183.9 million disability-adjusted life years. These disorders accounted for 8.6 million
years of life lost.
“Our findings show the striking and growing challenge that
these disorders pose for health systems in developed and developing regions,”
the study co-authors write. The research
team included Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Director of Social and Epidemiological Research
Department at CAMH.
Another study, appearing today in the Canadian Journal of
Psychiatry, shows that mental illnesses and addictions are more burdensome for
Ontarians than the four most common cancers combined — or for all infectious
Dr. Paul Kurdyak, a scientist at CAMH and the Institute for
Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), and co-authors calculated the burden of
illness — a measure combining years of life lost due to early death and years
lived with illness-related disability— attributable to mental illness and
addictions. Using a variety of sources, the authors retrieved data for nine
mental illnesses and addictions and found that depression, bipolar affective
disorder, alcohol use disorders, social phobia, and schizophrenia had the
highest burden. Results were drawn from the Opening Eyes, Opening Minds report(PDF).
The research team found that the large burden of mental
illness and addictions is likely due to a large population living with these
illnesses from a young age.
“This persistent finding is troubling because we know
effective treatments exist, but it seems only a minority of people get the
treatment they need,” says Dr. Kurdyak. “In fact, because we only focused on
nine mental illnesses and addictions, we’re likely underestimating the actual
“Applying strategies to better align resources to
address burden may be a way to enhance mental health and addiction system
performance,” he adds.
Media contact: Anita Dubey, Manager, Research
Communications, CAMH, (416) 535-8501 ext. 4932 or firstname.lastname@example.org