Building the case for the integration of mental health services in leprosy and lymphatic filariasis programmes.
There is a growing acknowledgment that mental ill health increases risks for communicable and non-communicable diseases, and that conversely, many health conditions increase the risk of mental health disorders (1). This is particularly relevant to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Mainly due to the stigma, neglect and, for some, the chronic nature of NTDs, people affected by these diseases seem to be more prone to developing mental health issues (2).
The recent NTD Summit in Geneva and NTD NGDO Network (NNN) Conferences in both Washington and Dakar promoted the fact that mental health is not simply a cross-cutting issue but rather an integral concern for any NTD health intervention. Many now promote the idea of "no health without mental health" and argue for the development of psychosocial interventions to be integrated into health-care systems (3).
Building on this recent work, Lepra conducted a review of the literature on mental health and leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (LF), two of Lepra’s core diseases in its 2016-2020 Strategy. Around fifty articles were reviewed. Findings from this literature review are presented in this report and conclude that one in two people with LF or leprosy experience mental health issues. The implications of this finding along with proposals for action are also discussed.