In developing countries, despite the growing prevalence of mental disorders, the financial resources provided by governments for the treatment of mental illness are extremely low, and most patients have very low incomes, making it almost impossible for them to purchase SGAMs. At the same time, however, by adopting UN Resolution 119, governments of both developed and developing countries have recognized that appropriate treatment of mental illness is a human right which should be respected.
Thus, the provision of effective treatment is not simply a medical matter, nor is it a proposition that should be decided purely on the basis of economic arguments. Ensuring that people with mental illness receive treatment that will help them is an ethical imperative of any society, regardless of the level of its industrial development. At the same time, the current trend toward extending the responsibility for health care from health professionals to governments, patients, and patients’ families, as well as the health-care industry and health-care professionals, means that the resolution of the issue of the cost of medications cannot be left solely to any one of these agencies. Governments, the health-care industry and the pharmaceutical industry will all have to consider increasing their contributions to the provision of mental health care. This is especially true in countries with severely restricted resources, for example in Eastern Europe and large parts of the developing world.
(5)Improved education and refresher training about the SGAMs for physicians of all types, as well as for other health-care workers, are among the obvious tasks of health -care authorities and non-governmental organizations, along with an emphasis on quality of care. In particular, it is important for physicians to know what to expect from the SGAMs; this may prevent unnecessary prescriptions and ease the process of authorizing the use of these medications. In addition, as greater awareness of their therapeutic benefits and side effect profiles develops, specific uses and new standards of care will be developed about which clinicians will need to be educated.
(6)Care-givers also need information and support, and psychiatrists can help by referring people with mental illnesses and their care-givers to self-help organizations. Well-informed, responsibly assertive family members and other care-givers and well-informed patients could significantly improve the outcome of mental illness. Thus, the strengthening of groups of patients and family organizations presents significant potential for better use of available treatments, better monitoring of their effects, and overall improvement of care for people with mental illness.
(7)The World Health Organization can play a key role in improving the quality of care and in optimizing the use of antipsychotic medications. In particular, it is important for this unique intergovernmental organization in the field of health to strengthen its ties with professional and non-professional organizations in the area of mental health in order to provide the best advice to governments about mental health programme development. The recommendations that the World Health Organization