Mental illness is more common than most people realise and in this session you will learn why there is ‘no health without mental health’. We will review what is known about how many people are affected by mental illness in Ethiopia. You will learn that mental illness can lead to a high level of disability and suffering, often over a long period of time. Not only that, but people suffering from mental illness also have poorer general health and higher mortality, and are often victims of stigma, discrimination and abuse. Mental health is also important for achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals.
You will learn that, even though effective treatments are available, few people with mental illness receive the care they need. As a health practitioner, you have an important part to play in helping to reduce this treatment gap. We will describe how mental healthcare fits into all levels of the existing health system and your expected role in the health extension service. Finally, you will learn about the multiple causes of mental illness, the ‘biopsychosocial model’ of mental health and some of the different ways that mental illness is understood within the local culture.