At a global level there are striking disparities in the provision of mental health care between rich and poor countries. In low- and middle-income countries more than 75% of people with serious mental health conditions receive inadequate care, despite substantial disability and functional impairment. These global disparities in mental health care have been mirrored in intervention research, with few trials being undertaken in LMICs, and with inadequate reflection of need and poor accessibility.
In order to activate political and policy solutions, as well as population- and individual-level responses, the last decade has seen the consolidation of the field of global mental health as an area of research and practice, that places a priority on achieving equity in mental health for all people worldwide. Expanding access to care, improving preventive strategies and treatment interventions, transforming health systems, and building human resource capacity are among the main research and implementation priorities for global mental health.
A cross-cutting principle for activities in the field of global mental health is the value attributed to the evidence base. Promotion, prevention, and treatment interventions, whether psychosocial or pharmacological, simple or complex, should have an accessible evidence base to provide effective tools for programme planners, policy-makers, healthcare professionals, and people with mental health problems.
The production of reliable, relevant, and accessible evidence is the main purpose of Cochrane, and Cochrane systematic reviews of primary research in health care and health policy, are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence- based healthcare resources. Goal 2 of Cochrane’s Strategy to 2020 is ‘‘to make Cochrane evidence accessible and useful to everybody, everywhere in the world’’, and the Cochrane Global Mental Health Group was established to contribute to this goal.
The mission is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences to produce, disseminate and implement systematic reviews for optimising mental health promotion, prevention and treatment interventions in LMICs.
Cochrane GMH activities focus on the evidence base with a pragmatic attitude, including approaches that are culturally appropriate, such as traditional, complementary and alternative medicine. It collects and reviews the best evidence relevant not only to interventions that fit with a biomedical model or a psycho-social construct, but also relevant to promotion and prevention public health approaches. Examples of target interventions include treatments of specific mental health conditions as well as preventive strategies and interventions to promote psychological wellbeing.