In recent years, policy makers in high-income countries have placed an increasing emphasis on the value of maintaining good mental health, recognizing the contribution that this makes to quality of life, whilst ever more mindful of the socio-economic consequences of poor mental health. The picture in many other parts of the world is much less encouraging; policy attention and resources are still directed largely at communicable diseases. We reflect on some of the challenges faced in these countries and outline the role that economic evidence could play in strengthening the policy case for investment in mental health. Clearly this should include assessment of the economic impact of strategies implemented outside, as well as within the health sector. The ways in which mental health services are delivered is also of critical importance. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have long been shown to be key stakeholders in the funding, coordination and delivery of these services in high-income countries. Their role in low- and middle-income countries, where infrastructure and policy focus on mental health are more limited, can be even more vital in overcoming some of the barriers to the development of mental health policy and practice
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