Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 215
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Tavaragi, Meghamala S. and C., Sushma 2017. Chronic Mental Illness and the Changing Scope of Intervention Strategies, Diagnosis, and Treatment.

    Ahn, Young-Joon Jo, Sang-Ho Lee, Seung-Hwan and Lim, Jung-Hwa 2016. The Review Study on Yoga, Qigong, and Taichi Interventions for Anxiety: Based on Korean Journal Articles from 2009 to 2015. Journal of Oriental Neuropsychiatry, Vol. 27, Issue. 1, p. 23.

    Antai-Otong, Deborah 2016. Caring for the Patient with an Anxiety Disorder. Nursing Clinics of North America, Vol. 51, Issue. 2, p. 173.

    Ao, Trong Shetty, Sharmila Sivilli, Teresa Blanton, Curtis Ellis, Heidi Geltman, Paul L. Cochran, Jennifer Taylor, Eboni Lankau, Emily W. and Lopes Cardozo, Barbara 2016. Suicidal Ideation and Mental Health of Bhutanese Refugees in the United States. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, Vol. 18, Issue. 4, p. 828.

    Baker, Kathryn D. Bisby, Madelyne A. and Richardson, Rick 2016. Impaired fear extinction in adolescent rodents: Behavioural and neural analyses. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,

    Bebbington, Paul E. 2016. The persisting burden of psychiatric disorder. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, Vol. 25, Issue. 01, p. 35.

    Bener, Abdulbari Abou-Saleh, Mohammed T. Mohammad, Ramzi M. Dafeeah, Elnour E. Ventriglio, Antonio and Bhugra, Dinesh 2016. Does consanguinity increase the risk of mental ilnesses? A population-based study. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, Vol. 9, Issue. 2, p. 172.

    Bhamani, Shireen Shehzad Farooq, Salima Parpio, Yasmin Karmaliani, Rozina Asad, Nargis Azam, Iqbal and Pasha, Omrana 2016. Factors Affecting Depression among Married Women Living in Urban Squatter Settlements of Karachi, Pakistan. Open Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 06, Issue. 01, p. 80.

    Broen, Martijn P. G. Narayen, Nadia E. Kuijf, Mark L. Dissanayaka, Nadeeka N. W. and Leentjens, Albert F. G. 2016. Prevalence of anxiety in Parkinson's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Movement Disorders,

    Buller, Leonard T. Best, Matthew J. Alam, Milad Sabeh, Karim Lawrie, Charles and Quinnan, Stephen M. 2016. The Influence of Psychiatric Comorbidity on Inpatient Outcomes following Distal Humerus Fractures. Advances in Orthopedic Surgery, Vol. 2016, p. 1.

    Cantisani, A. Stegmayer, K. Bracht, T. Federspiel, A. Wiest, R. Horn, H. Müller, T. J. Schneider, C. Höfle, O. Strik, W. and Walther, S. 2016. Distinct resting-state perfusion patterns underlie psychomotor retardation in unipolar vs. bipolar depression. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica,

    Cicchese, Joseph J. and Berry, Stephen D. 2016. Hippocampal Non-Theta-Contingent Eyeblink Classical Conditioning: A Model System for Neurobiological Dysfunction. Frontiers in Psychiatry, Vol. 7,

    De las Cuevas, Carlos and Sanz, Emilio J. 2016. Métodos de valoración de la adherencia al tratamiento psiquiátrico en la práctica clínica. Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología y Salud, Vol. 7, Issue. 1, p. 25.

    Edwards, Meghan K. and Loprinzi, Paul D. 2016. Experimentally increasing sedentary behavior results in increased anxiety in an active young adult population. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 204, p. 166.

    Ernst, Monique Lago, Tiffany Davis, Andrew and Grillon, Christian 2016. The effects of methylphenidate and propranolol on the interplay between induced-anxiety and working memory. Psychopharmacology,

    Fleming, Theresa M. de Beurs, Derek Khazaal, Yasser Gaggioli, Andrea Riva, Giuseppe Botella, Cristina Baños, Rosa M. Aschieri, Filippo Bavin, Lynda M. Kleiboer, Annet Merry, Sally Lau, Ho Ming and Riper, Heleen 2016. Maximizing the Impact of e-Therapy and Serious Gaming: Time for a Paradigm Shift. Frontiers in Psychiatry, Vol. 7,

    Forbes, M.K. Crome, E. Sunderland, M. and Wuthrich, V.M. 2016. Perceived needs for mental health care and barriers to treatment across age groups. Aging & Mental Health, p. 1.

    Frazier, Patricia Richards, Derek Mooney, Jacqueline Hofmann, Stefan G. Beidel, Deborah Palmieri, Patrick A. and Bonner, Christopher 2016. Acceptability and proof of concept of internet-delivered treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress in university students: protocol for an open feasibility trial. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, Vol. 2, Issue. 1,

    Fusco, Rachel A. Jung, Nahri and Newhill, Christina E. 2016. Maternal victimization and child trauma: The mediating role of mothers' affect. Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 67, p. 247.

    Jeon, Hong Jin Baek, Ji Hyun Ahn, Yong-Min Kim, Se Joo Ha, Tae Hyun Cha, Boseok Moon, Eunsoo Kang, Hee-Ju Ryu, Vin Cho, Chul-Hyun Heo, Jung-Yoon Kim, Kiwon and Lee, Heon-Jeong 2016. Review of Cohort Studies for Mood Disorders. Psychiatry Investigation, Vol. 13, Issue. 3, p. 265.

  • Currently known as: Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences Title history
    Epidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale, Volume 18, Issue 1
  • March 2009, pp. 23-33

The global burden of mental disorders: An update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys*

  • Ronald C. Kessler (a1), Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola (a2), Jordi Alonso (a3), Somnath Chatterji (a4), Sing Lee (a5), Johan Ormel (a6), T. Bedirhan Üstün (a7) and Philip S. Wang (a8)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2011

Aims - The paper reviews recent findings from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys on the global burden of mental disorders. Methods - The WMH surveys are representative community surveys in 28 countries throughout the world aimed at providing information to mental health policy makers about the prevalence, distribution, burden, and unmet need for treatment of common mental disorders. Results - The first 17 WMH surveys show that mental disorders are commonly occurring in all participating countries. The inter-quartile range (IQR: 25th-75th percentiles) of lifetime DSM-IV disorder prevalence estimates (combining anxiety, mood, externalizing, and substance use disorders) is 18.1–36.1%. The IQR of 12-month prevalence estimates is 9.8–19.1%. Prevalence estimates of 12-month Serious Mental Illness (SMI) are 4–6.8% in half the countries, 2.3–3.6% in one-fourth, and 0.8–1.9% in one-fourth. Many mental disorders begin in childhood-adolescence and have significant adverse effects on subsequent role transitions in the WMH data. Adult mental disorders are found to be associated with such high role impairment in the WMH data that available clinical interventions could have positive cost-effectiveness ratios. Conclusions - Mental disorders are commonly occurring and often seriously impairing in many countries throughout the world. Expansion of treatment could be cost-effective from both employer and societal perspectives

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Professor R.C. Kessler, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, 180 Longwood Avenue, Boston MA 02115 (USA) Fax: 1-617-432-3588 E-mail:
Hide All

Preparation of this paper was supported, in part, by the following grants from the US Public Health Service: U01MH060220, R01DA012058, R01MH070884 and R01DA016558. An earlier version of this paper was presented as a keynote address at the 8th National Congress of the Italian Society of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Florence, Italy on October 25, 2007. Portions of this paper appeared previously in Kessler, R.C., Ruscio, A.M., Shear, K., Wittchen, H.-U. (in press). The epidemiology of anxiety disorders. In M.M. Antony & M.B. Stein (Eds.), Handbook of Anxiety and the Anxiety Disorders. New York: Oxford University Press © Oxford University Press; Wang, P.S., Kessler, R.C. (2005). Global burden of mood disorders. In D. Stein, D. Kupfer & A. Schatzberg (Eds.), Textbook of Mood Disorders (pp. 55-67). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. © American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. 2005; Kessler, R.C. (2007). The global burden of anxiety and mood disorders: Putting the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) findings into perspective. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 68 (suppl. 2), 10-19, © Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc. 2007. All used with permission. A complete list of WMH publications can be found at The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent the views of any of the sponsoring organizations, agencies, or U.S. Government.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

P. Berto , D. D'Ilario , P. Ruffo , Virgilio R. Di & F. Rizzo (2000). Depression: cost-of-illness studies in the international literature, a review. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics 3, 310.

T.A. Brown D.H. Barlow (2005). Dimensional versus categorical classification of mental disorders in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and beyond: comment on the special section. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 114, 551556.

S.M. Chang , B.J. Hahm , J.Y. Lee , M.S. Shin , H.J. Jeon , J.P. Hong , H.B. Lee , D.W. Lee & M.J. Cho (2008). Cross-national difference in the prevalence of depression caused by the diagnostic threshold. Journal of Affective Disorders 106, 159167.

K.M. Connor & J.R. Davidson (2001). SPRINT: a brief global assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder. International Clinical Psychopharmacology 16, 279284.

J. Endicott , R.L. Spitzer , J.L. Fleiss & J. Cohen (1976). The global assessment scale. A procedure for measuring overall severity of psychiatric disturbance. Archives of General Psychiatry 33, 766771.

T. Furmark (2002). Social phobia: overview of community surveys. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 105 (2), 8493.

P.E. Greenberg & H.G. Birnbaum (2005). The economic burden of depression in the US: societal and patient perspectives. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 6, 369376.

P.E. Greenberg , T. Sisitsky , R.C. Kessler , S.N. Finkelstein , E.R. Berndt , J.R. Davidson , J.C. Ballenger & A.J. Fyer (1999). The economic burden of anxiety disorders in the 1990s. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 60, 427435.

O. Gureje , V.O. Lasebikan , L. Kola & V.A. Makanjuola (2006). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders in the Nigerian Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being. British Journal of Psychiatry 188, 465471.

J.P. Hambrick , C.L. Turk , R.G. Heimberg , F.R. Schneier & M.R. Liebowitz (2004). Psychometric properties of disability measures among patients with social anxiety disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders 18, 825839.

J.M. Haro , S. Arbabzadeh-Bouchez , T.S. Brugha , de G. Girolamo , M.E. Guyer , R. Jin , J.P. Lepine , F. Mazzi , B. Reneses , G. Vilagut , N.A. Sampson & R.C. Kessler (2006). Concordance of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Version 3.0 (CIDI 3.0) with standardized clinical assessments in the WHO World Mental Health surveys. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 15, 167180.

D.S. Hasin & B.F. Grant (2004). The co-occurrence of DSM-IV alcohol abuse in DSM-IV alcohol dependence: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions on heterogeneity that differ by population subgroup. Archives of General Psychiatry 61, 891896.

L.L. Judd & H.S. Akiskal (2000). Delineating the longitudinal structure of depressive illness: beyond clinical subtypes and duration thresholds. Pharmacopsychiatry 33, 37.

R.C. Kessler , E.E. Walters & M.S. Forthofer (1998). The social consequences of psychiatric disorders, III: probability of marital stability. American Journal of Psychiatry 155, 10921096.

R.C. Kessler & T.B. Üstün (2004). The World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 13, 93121.

R.C. Kessler , H.S. Akiskal , M. Ames , H. Birnbaum , P. Greenberg , R.M. Hirschfeld , R. Jin , K.R. Merikangas , G.E. Simon & P.S. Wang (2006). Prevalence and effects of mood disorders on work performance in a nationally representative sample of U.S. workers. American Journal of Psychiatry 163, 15611568.

R.C. Kessler , G.P. Amminger , S. Aguilar-Gaxiola , J. Alonso , S. Lee & T.B. Üstün (2007). Age of onset of mental disorders: a review of recent literature. Current Opinion in Psychiatry 20, 359364.

A.C. Leon , M. Olfson , L. Portera , L. Farber & D.V. Sheehan (1997). Assessing psychiatric impairment in primary care with the Sheehan Disability Scale. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 27, 93105.

A. Maetzel & L. Li (2002). The economic burden of low back pain: a review of studies published between 1996 and 2001. Best Practice and Research Clinical Rheumatology 16, 2330.

H. Matsunaga & S. Seedat (2007). Obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders: cross-national and ethnic issues. CNS Spectrums 12, 392400.

K.R. Merikangas , M. Ames , L. Cui , P.E. Stang , T.B. Ustun , M. Von Korff & R.C. Kessler (2007). The impact of comorbidity of mental and physical conditions on role disability in the US adult household population. Archives of General Psychiatry 64, 11801188.

J. Mylle & M. Maes (2004). Partial posttraumatic stress disorder revisited. Journal of Affective Disorders 78, 3748.

J. Ormel , M. Von Korff , H. Burger , K. Scott , K. Demyttenaere , Y.Q. Huang , J. Posada-Villa , Lepine J. Pierre , M.C. Angermeyer , D. Levinson , G. de Girolamo , N. Kawakami , E. Karam , M.E. Medina-Mora , O. Gureje , D. Williams , J.M. Haro , E.J. Bromet , J. Alonso & R. Kessler (2007). Mental disorders among persons with heart disease - results from World Mental Health surveys. General Hospital Psychiatry 29, 325334.

S.D. Reed , T.A. Lee & D.C. McCrory (2004). The economic burden of allergic rhinitis: a critical evaluation of the literature. Pharmacoeconomics 22, 345361.

A.M. Ruscio , W.T. Chiu , P. Roy-Byrne , P.E. Stang , D.J. Stein , H.U. Wittchen & R.C. Kessler (2007). Broadening the definition of generalized anxiety disorder: effects on prevalence and associations with other disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Journal of Anxiety Disorders 21, 662676.

W.K. Silverman & J. Moreno (2005). Specific phobia. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 14, 819843, ix-x.

P. Skeppar & R. Adolfsson (2006). Bipolar II and the bipolar spectrum. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 60, 726.

P.S. Wang , S. Aguilar-Gaxiola , J. Alonso , M.C. Angermeyer , G. Borges , E.J. Bromet , R. Bruffaerts , G. de Girolamo , R. de Graaf , O. Gureje , J.M. Haro , E.G. Karam , R.C. Kessler , V. Kovess , M.C. Lane , S. Lee , D. Levinson , Y. Ono , M. Petukhova , J. Posada-Villa , S. Seedat & J.E. Wells (2007a). Use of mental health services for anxiety, mood, and substance disorders in 17 countries in the WHO world mental health surveys. Lancet 370, 841850.

P.S. Wang , G.E. Simon , J. Avorn , F. Azocar , E.J. Ludman , J. McCulloch , M.Z. Petukhova & R.C. Kessler (2007b). Telephone screening, outreach, and care management for depressed workers and impact on clinical and work productivity outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 298, 14011411.

H.U. Wittchen & F. Jacobi (2005). Size and burden of mental disorders in Europe-a critical review and appraisal of 27 studies. European Neuropsychopharmacology 15, 357376.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
  • ISSN: 2045-7960
  • EISSN: 2045-7979
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-psychiatric-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *