Philip B Mitchell, Henry Brodaty and David L Copolov
Med J Aust 2002; 176 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04268.x
Published online: 7 January 2002

Three recent developments of outstanding international significance have occurred in psychiatry. First, The global burden of disease report,1 which showed that depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder were among the leading causes of worldwide disease disability and burden, has had major ramifications for government prioritisation of health services. Second, significant research in Alzheimer's disease has revealed the specific molecular defects underpinning the rare familial early-onset form of this condition. Third, major advances in pharmacotherapy have led to dramatic shifts in treatment, particularly for depression and schizophrenia, but also for dementia and bipolar disorder. Nationally, a major epidemiological study — the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being of Adults2 — confirmed the high prevalence and disability of mental illnesses, with depression and anxiety accounting for considerable morbidity. These international and national findings prompted the Federal Government to establish the National Depression Initiative "beyondblue".

  • 1 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Departments of Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, University of Melbourne and Monash University, VIC.


  • 1. Murray CJL, Lopez AD, editors. The global burden of disease. Vol. 1. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1996: 325-396.
  • 2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Mental health and wellbeing: profile of adults, Australia. Canberra: ABS, 1997. (Catalogue No. 4326.0.)
  • 3. Watson JDG. Disorders of memory and intellect. Med J Aust 2001; 175: 433-439.
  • 4. Jorm AF. Mental health literacy: public knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders. Br J Psychiatry 2000; 177: 396-401.
  • 5. Schaffner KF, McGorry PD. Preventing severe mental illnesses — new prospects and ethical challenges. Schizophrenia Res 2001; 51(Suppl 1): 3-15.


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