Affronter les troubles mentaux

DAVOS – Contrairement à ce que l’on croit généralement, les troubles mentaux représentent un problème qui n’est ni récent, ni propre au monde développé. Ce que nous nommons aujourd’hui schizophrénie et troubles bipolaires sont décrits dans des textes remontant à la Grèce antique et The Anatomy of Melancholy (Anatomie de la Mélancolie), écrit par l’érudit anglais Robert Burton et publié pour la première fois en 1621, reste l’une des descriptions la plus juste qui soit de la dépression. Aujourd’hui, les pays à revenus bas et intermédiaires représentent l’essentiel de la charge de morbidité mondiale et 75 pour cent des suicides liés aux troubles mentaux.

Ce qui est par contre nouveau, et encourageant, est l’attention accrue portée à ce problème. L’an dernier à Davos, j’ai contribué au lancement du Global Agenda Council on Mental Health (Conseil de l’agenda mondial pour la santé mentale), après qu’une étude du Forum économique mondial et de la Harvard School of Public Health ait estimé que les coûts mondiaux des troubles mentaux pourraient excéder les coûts du cancer, du diabète et des maladies respiratoires combinés au cours des deux prochaines décennies. Compte tenu des enjeux, les arguments économiques et humains à prendre au sérieux la santé mentale sont tout à fait convaincants.

Au moment d’agir, les décideurs politiques devraient garder à l’esprit le fait que les troubles mentaux sont des troubles du cerveau. Ils sont trop souvent perçus comme un problème de caractère ou de manque de volonté, au lieu d’être reconnus comme des graves affections médicales, souvent fatales. Le cerveau est un organe comme un autre. Nous ne devons pas plus incriminer une personne pour un cerveau dysfonctionnel que pour un pancréas, un foie ou un cœur défaillant. Les personnes souffrant de troubles du cerveau méritent exactement le même niveau et la même qualité de soins que ceux attendus pour traiter toute autre partie malade du corps.

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