In the 2010s, mental health and related issues such as suicide have become major global issues of public health concern. The indirect costs to the global economy of mental illness—encompassing such factors as loss of productivity and the spending on mental health services and other direct costs—amount to approximately $2.5 trillion a year. Global health experts and economists project this amount will increase to approximately $6 trillion by 2030. When gone untreated, mental illnesses account for 13% of the total global burden of disease. By the year 2030 it is expected that depression alone will be the leading cause of the global disease burden. Unfortunately, many persons suffering with mental illnesses do go untreated or receive marginally effective treatments. However, recent advances in technology, evidence-based treatments, and delivery systems of care provide hope for the world’s mentally ill population.
Karen M. Sowers, Catherine N. Dulmus, and Braden K. Linn
Martha S. Bragin
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is the arm of the international community that provides guidelines for practice in humanitarian emergencies and coordinates among the three parts of the humanitarian system: the United Nations and its agencies; the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee for the Red Cross; and the consortia of International non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This article describes the IASC Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, their role and history, and the role of social work in their development. The article notes the concurrence of various aspects of the Guidelines with social work practice, and provides case examples of social work interventions in the context of the Guidelines. Practical tools that social workers can use when confronting emergencies at home or abroad are included in the reference list.