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Selected Category: mental health

Global Burden of Mental Illness

Categories: mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD, MPH, CDC Division of Global Health Protection

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD, MPH, CDC Division of Global Health Protection

“Total health” includes both physical and mental health. The Surgeon General’s landmark report on mental health in 1999 raised awareness about the inter-connectedness of mind and body, of physical and mental health. That reality has been validated ever since. However, mental health and addressing mental health-related problems are often under-emphasized.

CDC recognizes that the mental health of individuals in the community is a vital component of public health and that public health cannot be adequately addressed without also addressing mental health. Therefore, CDC is working on the public health issues related to mental health.

Mental Health in Bhutanese Refugee Populations

Categories: mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), refugee health

Tony Ao, Sc.D, EIS Officer, CDC Global Disease Detection Branch

Tony Ao, Sc.D, EIS Officer, CDC Global Disease Detection Branch

Imagine that you‘ve been driven from your home, deprived of your possessions, made dependent on others, and forced to flee to a foreign country not once, not twice, but three times over the course of your life. You feel isolated and lost without a sense of citizenship or permanent community. Lhotshampas (“People of the South”) are Bhutanese of Nepali origin who have lived in Bhutan and maintained their distinct cultural and religious traditions since the 19th century. Starting in the early 1990s, confronted with increased cultural and religious persecution by the Bhutanese government, more than 100,000 Lhotshampas fled to refugee camps in neighboring Nepal. In these camps, the Lhotshampas faced host country labor and movement restrictions.

Saying YES for Children

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, mental health, violence and injury


Imagine that you woke up this morning and the newspaper headlines said that scientists had discovered a new disease. The scientists went on to report that over 1 billion children throughout the world were exposed to this disease each and every year. Furthermore the scientists reported that those exposed to this disease were at greater risk for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders for the rest of their lives; also at greater risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer; even at greater risk of infectious diseases like HIV, that are still often fatal in parts of the world; and, if that wasn’t enough, at greater risk for involvement in social problems such as crime and drug abuse over the course of their lifetimes. 

Courtesy of Nadia Todres, used with permission.

Courtesy of Nadia Todres, used with permission.

If we had such a disease, that was entirely preventable, what do you think we’d do? The truth is we do have such a disease — it’s called violence against children. And one of the first things we would do is measure it and use those measurements to propel effective and sustainable action. 

A Question for the Hero 

Shortly before my former neighbor Stan Foster retired at age 80 to spend time with his wife, he took me and several others working in the area of global child health out to lunch. For those who don’t recognize the name, Stan Foster is a public health hero famous for helping lead the global smallpox eradication campaign. In his typical hippo bowtie, smiling ear to ear, he listened attentively to our question, posed after relating the scenario above about the newspaper headlines. 

Focusing on Mental Health in a Humanitarian Crisis

Categories: child health, mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), refugee health, violence and injury

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD MPH, Medical Officer with the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Division of Global Health Protection (proposed)

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD MPH, Medical Officer with the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Division of Global Health Protection (proposed)

The Syrian refugee crisis has been two years in the making. It represents the culmination of the conflict between the Syrian government and its own people, a violent conflict that has greatly affected the civilian population and caused Syrians to flee in large numbers. Up to 1,000 people are now leaving the country each day; many are heading to Jordan but some have also fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and even Iraq. There is no end in sight as the conflict continues, and even if the regime were to fall, most people are pessimistic that violence would end immediately.

The Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is right along the border of the two countries. It is in the middle of the desert, a flat, featureless, dusty landscape that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I have seen many refugee camps throughout my career, and while this is certainly not the worst, it is not the best situation either. Many of the families in the camps are from Syria’s middle class, so they are not used to the rougher conditions and shared pit latrines. There have been sanitation problems as families, in attempts to avoid the communal toilets, have dug holes in their tents which end up flooding when it rains. Some are so unprepared for rough living that there have been reports of people creating open fires within their tents in efforts to keep warm. This is not a population familiar with this style of living, unlike African refugees, many of whom are used to moving from camp to camp.

CDC supports U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), violence and injury

Dr. Tom FriedenCDC welcomes the implementation of the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity.  At the heart of the Action Plan is the dedication to reducing violence against children, along with its vast, common, destructive and preventable consequences, including HIV, chronic diseases, and mental health problems. CDC is committed to working alongside other USG agencies and an array of global partners to help assure that children not only survive, but also thrive, growing up in strong families, with safe, stable and nurturing relationships.  CDC’s work with Together for Girls, funded through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is just one example of such partnerships.

CDC’s uniquely valuable contribution to the Action Plan consists in linking nationally representative survey data on the magnitude and impact of violence against children to effective, sustainable, and scalable Objective: Protect children from Violence, Exploitation, Abuse and Neglectprograms that reduce violence and its consequences.  The need for these Violence Against Children Surveys, which have been conducted in Swaziland, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Haiti, is strong and growing.  The data from these surveys increase countries’ abilities to create and evaluate violence prevention efforts and to help victims and their families.

CDC will continue to support the objectives of the Action plan through partnerships that help nations around the world invest effectively in the futures of their children.

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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