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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

Prevention of mental disorders: evidence, challenges and opportunities

Felice N Jacka12* and Nicola J Reavley3

Author Affiliations

1 IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

3 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

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BMC Medicine 2014, 12:75  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-75

Published: 9 May 2014


Modelling studies suggest that less than 30% of the burden of mental disorders can be averted, even with optimal care and access to services. This points to the need to reduce the incidence of mental disorders, utilising evidence-based prevention strategies and policy action. In this cross-journal article collection ( webcite), the case for prevention is made by identifying initiatives with established efficacy, as well as opportunities and targets for the prevention of mental disorders in early life, in the workplace and at the population level. These articles provide reviews, systematic and narrative, outlining the evidence base for prevention approaches, as well as comment and debate designed to prompt discussion and a reconsideration of strategies for prevention. Barriers to expanding the research into prevention include the reluctance of governments and funding bodies to invest in research and policy action that may take many years to manifest benefits. The case for the cost-effectiveness of preventing mental disorders needs to be strongly argued and new cross-disciplinary, intersectoral initiatives and policies developed for the prevention of mental disorders across the lifespan.

Prevention; depression; mental disorders; mental health; policy