Published: 15-12-2023 15:30 | Updated: 15-12-2023 15:31

Mental health care for all: updated mhGAP intervention guidelines by the WHO

Painting of man with floating brain.
Illustration by Gerd Altmann downloaded from Pixabay. Photo: Public domain (CC0)

The mhGAP guideline supports countries to strengthen capacity to deal with the growing burden of mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) conditions and narrow the treatment gap. These recommendations were first published in 2010 as part of the mhGAP intervention guide. The third edition of the mhGAP handbook, reflecting 15 years of investment, covers 11 modules on various mental health disorders and related conditions.

The Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)

Mental health disorders constitute a global burden, with inadequate resources exacerbating the challenge. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) to address this disparity and support care of MNS.

MhGAP aims to bridge the gap between mental health care needs and available resources by providing guidelines that cover a wide spectrum of mental health concerns, including suicide prevention and self-harm, aiming to optimize care delivery.

Recent update of the mhGAP guidelines

Due to rapidly growing scientific evidence, the mhGAP guidelines undergo periodic updates. The latest iteration (Version 3.0), released in November 2023, integrates the latest findings to ensure the guidelines remain current and effective in addressing evolving mental health challenges. In addition to the 90 pre-existing recommendations, 30 updated and 18 new recommendations were made publicly available.

Stakeholders, health professionals are encouraged to leverage these guidelines to enhance mental health services, fostering a more comprehensive and accessible approach to mental health care delivery worldwide.

Contributions of NASP as a WHO collaborating centre

National centre for suicide research and prevention (NASP) supports the update process on multiple levels: both as members of the Guideline Development Group contributing to the review of evidence – by performing rigorous literature reviews and evidence syntheses; and as part of the Expert Group who formulate the final the guidelines.