Mental Health in TurkeyTurkey, a land of diverse cultures and traditions, serves as a bridge connecting Europe and Asia. With a profound history that shapes its very core, Turkey has undergone substantial recent transformations, marked by modernization and urbanization. This evolution has propelled economic growth and infrastructure development to new heights. Nonetheless, alongside these encouraging advancements, there have been noticeable challenges, particularly in the realm of mental health. While common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are prevalent in Turkey, as they are in numerous other nations, the country has experienced a comparatively higher rate of psychiatric hospitalizations in recent times.

The Prevalence of Common Disorders

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population of Turkey has confronted a surge in mental health challenges over recent years, with individuals grappling with anxiety and depression, stemming from factors like natural disasters, economic downturns and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO’s findings indicate a staggering 3.2 million people affected by depression, accompanied by an over 50% escalation in the usage of antidepressants during the past five years. With an increasing number of individuals in Turkey seeking medical support for their mental well-being, the prevalence of these issues underscores the significance of global education regarding the essential understanding of the mind on par with the physical body.


The Union of Medical Relief and Care Organizations (UOSSM), established in 2012 in France, is a collaborative effort of member organizations from countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and Turkey. Together, these members pool resources and coordinate projects to deliver relief and medical assistance to victims of war in Syria. Amid the complex relationship between Turkey and Syria, Turkey has extended aid to refugees seeking refuge within its borders. Throughout the past decade of the Syrian crisis, mental health has emerged as an enduring concern, growing even more pronounced due to the ongoing exposure to traumatic experiences. In response, Turkey has instituted an array of mental health programs and provided medications, aiming to alleviate the profound psychological distress endured by the affected population.

Psychiatric Hospitalization

Amidst the pandemic lockdown, notable trends have emerged in the realm of psychiatric conditions. While it is widely acknowledged that rates of patients grappling with anxiety and depression tend to surge during lockdown periods, a distinct rise in the diagnosis of bipolar disorders has also been observed subsequent to the pandemic quarantine. This uptick in psychiatric hospitalizations serves as a clear signal for policymakers to redirect their focus toward enhancing mental health services and implementing preventative measures to effectively manage the mental well-being landscape in Turkey before the situation gets worse.

Stigma and Awareness

As various nations grapple with distinct stigmas and societal expectations, these diverse social dynamics present barriers for individuals dealing with physical and mental illnesses. A social study has unveiled a correlation between supernatural causal beliefs and heightened stigma surrounding mental health. Conversely, the recognition of one’s ongoing stress levels has demonstrated a capacity to diminish this stigma.


In conclusion, Turkey’s intricate tapestry of diverse cultures stands as a testament to its remarkable evolution over the years. Turkey’s journey through economic, social and political changes has led to an elevation in the rates of common mental health issues within the population. Nevertheless, Turkey is dedicated to alleviating societal pressures by offering robust mental health services and resources for its citizens to rely on.

– Sandy Kang
Photo: Flickr

Mental Disorder Diagnosis
According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2017, the incidence of mental illnesses increased by 13% worldwide. With the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in 2020, anxiety and depression increased by 25%. Much of the burden of mental illness is still concentrated in low-income, developing countries. Here is some information about some of the issues impacting mental disorder diagnosis for low-income populations and what can be done to provide equal care.

Mental Health in Developing Countries

There is a strong association between poverty and mental illness. Lower SES is associated with a higher risk of mental disorder diagnosis. Poverty can lead to poor physical health, which is often comorbid with mental disorders. These health issues give rise to higher spending on treatment which feeds back into the cycle of poverty. Dynamics like these are especially pronounced in developing countries where factors such as war and natural disasters exacerbate negative outcomes. The WHO reports that one in five people affected by conflict will develop conditions like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Receiving a Diagnosis

Developing countries face a variety of barriers to mental health diagnosis. Many people are unable to receive a diagnosis due to unavailable or unaffordable health care. Countries like Afghanistan and Ghana only have 0.296 and 0.065 psychologists per 100,000 people, respectively. When people are able to find a practitioner, they may not be able to afford their services. A 2019 report by the World Bank said that populations in developing countries spent $500 billion out of pocket on health care.

While rates of mental illness in developing countries are already high, the lack of access to health care raises the question of whether these statistics are accurate or if some are falling through the cracks without being diagnosed.


When people in these areas are able to be diagnosed, they may not receive the most accurate diagnosis. A study conducted in six low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South Asia reported poor training for mental health professionals and inadequate knowledge of mental health issues. Without a proper understanding of the complexity of mental health, providers can make mistakes with serious consequences. There is evidence that racial and ethnic minorities, who are disproportionately affected by poverty, are also more likely to receive an incorrect mental disorder diagnosis. Some of this may be due to bias and discrimination. 

Another factor impacting diagnosis is culture. Diagnostic manuals tend to be written from a Western perspective that does not always translate to other cultures. For example, patients may vary in the types of symptoms they present with. Asian patients are more likely to report physical symptoms than emotional ones. Cultural background may also prevent people from seeking out treatment. Physicians must keep these cultural differences in mind to ensure that an accurate mental disorder diagnosis is made. 

Stigma Surrounding Diagnosis

The stigma surrounding mental disorders is prevalent cross-culturally. In some countries, mental health is rarely discussed openly and is treated as a taboo subject. In Ghana, for instance, those suffering from mental illnesses are isolated. They may decide not to seek treatment or express their feelings due to shame. Those already diagnosed often face harmful stereotypes and social ostracization. 

Stigma stems from various factors, but insufficient mental health literacy is one of the greatest contributors. This includes both academic research on mental health and widespread knowledge among the general public. Developing countries tend to fall behind in mental health research. Improving educational efforts to increase mental health awareness is shown to be effective in reducing public stigma.

A Brighter Future

Though there are many issues surrounding mental disorder diagnosis, there are steps that can be taken to improve the situation. Huesofthemind Wellbeing Foundation (HOTM) is one nonprofit that is spreading awareness about mental health. Founded in India, HOTM is a member of the United Nations SDSN Youth. The organization breaks down mental health stigma by providing workshops and running campaigns to spread awareness. Topics range from educational stress and burnout to dance therapy. The organization features lists on its website of mental health professionals available to provide online therapy. For those who cannot afford professional help, HOTM offers free resources to learn about mental disorders and share personal stories to connect with others. Free, online resources are a valuable tool, both for people who are newly diagnosed and others who are farther along in their mental health journey. 

Mental health is an integral part of overall well-being. For many, a mental disorder diagnosis can be the first step toward improving their health. Improving access to quality mental health care and education ensures a brighter future for all.

– Yesenia Aguilera
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health Initiatives in SwedenSweden has often been ranked among the nations with the highest rates of quality of life and overall happiness. In addition to its stellar system of care and initiatives, the country is ripe with luscious natural landscapes and green spaces, providing its citizens with a pure, accessible, cost-free way to de-stress. These qualities work alongside mental health initiatives in Sweden. Many also recognize Sweden for its healthy balance of work and culture.

While mental health rates were low in the past, mental health initiatives in Sweden have been improving in recent times. Due to its growing success, many other nations are looking to the Nordic country as an example of progress, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government Policies

While there is still work to be done, mental health initiatives in Sweden are on the rebound. In 2016, the Swedish government introduced and implemented a mental health strategy focusing on “prevention and awareness, accessibility to care and greater emphasis on vulnerable groups.” This includes introducing methods to prevent severe conditions and increasing access to mental health treatments. Users can obtain treatment via county council mental health providers or generic services by the municipalities’ social welfare system. These municipalities provide care to individuals with mental illness, including school-aged children and patients recently discharged from a medical facility.

Options Available to Patients

There are many options available to Swedes who are living with mental illness. Numerous crisis hotlines staffed by volunteers are readily available for Swedes to utilize. These include SPES, available to those grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide, The Rainbow Line, available to LGBTQ+ individuals, Kvinnofridslinjen, available to women facing violence or threats of violence and BRIS, available to anyone who needs support.
Another initiative available to patients is the Young Health Programme (YHP), founded and operated by AstraZeneca. YHP is a global disease prevention program with a unique focus on mental health awareness for those aged 10 to 24. Researchers collected findings by surveying 1,350 discussions with the BRIS child helpline. They published the results so mental health professionals could access those findings. Patients, their families and health care professionals utilized five short films based on the team’s findings as part of their treatment process. To date, more than 29,000 children have used these methods to receive support for their respective conditions.

Outlook on the Future

Sweden’s efforts to strengthen its mental health initiatives are creating meaningful changes for patients and their families. Policies and policymakers are focusing on varying aspects of mental health and groups affected, including adolescents and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Agencies are more equipped to appropriately treat and care for their patients. As of June 2023, policymakers are continuing to strengthen mental health initiatives in Sweden in the hopes of maintaining positive mental health trends in the future.

– Nicholas DeLuca
Photo: Unsplash