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NZ survey will check overseas mental health trends

NZ survey will check overseas mental health trends

International research showing that up to half of all people with serious mental disorders in the United States and several European countries are not receiving treatment is also being conducted in New Zealand.

The findings from the first of a series of World Health Organisation World Mental Health Surveys are published in the current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. They show the high prevalence and burden of mental disorders globally which, despite available treatments, remain largely untreated.

The first mental health survey report includes data from 14 countries (six less developed, eight developed) on the prevalence, severity, and treatment of mental disorders from more than 60 000 face-to-face interviews with adult individuals representing the general population.

Professor Mark Oakley Browne, the Principal Investigator for the New Zealand Mental Health Epidemiology Study (MHES), Te Rau Hinengaro says the New Zealand survey is contributing to the international surveys coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO). He says the New Zealand national mental health community survey is currently under way.

The New Zealand survey uses the questionnaire and survey methodology developed for the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, with some local adaptations.

The survey is sponsored by the New Zealand Ministry of Health, is managed by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and has received approval from all the regional ethics committees.

The field work is being undertaken by the National Research Bureau, the survey firm which recently completed the national health survey for the Ministry of Health.

A team of researchers from the University of Auckland, University of Otago and Massey University will be responsible for the data analysis and preparation of reports. The survey will provide data about the prevalence of mental disorders, the disability associated with health problems, patterns of health service use and whether persons' mental health needs are being met.

As well as providing national and regional data, the survey will provide more detailed data for the Maori and Pacific communities than has previously been available.

As a collaborating nation in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, data from the New Zealand survey may also be used for cross-national comparisons, Professor Browne says.

Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General Mental Health Dr Janice Wilson says having data from a New Zealand survey which is comparable with international information will be valuable for benchmarking levels of mental health in New Zealand and will contribute to planning for delivery of mental health services.

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