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Deaths from mental disorders and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs: what trends in the UNECE region?

In the last 15 years, UNECE countries have experienced an increase in deaths related to mental disorders and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs. Although this trend is evident for both sexes, men have a higher rate of mortality from these causes than women, and the gap has persisted over time in most countries. 

This general trend has marked regional variation. Death rates in 2015 were the highest in Northern and Western European countries, which have also experienced the greatest increase in mortality since 2000. However, this increase was accompanied by a reduction of the gender gap. In Central and Eastern European countries, mortality from mental disorders, and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs was lower in 2015 and has decreased in some countries since 2000, but the difference between males and females seems to be more persistent. Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia have the lowest rates, and, except for Georgia, mortality from these causes has decreased in the last 15 years.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, countries committed to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages (Goal 3), and to achieve gender equality (Goal 5). In the context of general improvements in population health in most societies, mental disorders as well as diseases of nervous system and sense organs appear to be of growing concern. In developed countries, they make up from 6 to 12 per cent of all causes of death. These causes are more prevalent in countries with longer life expectancy. Such statistics indicate areas on which policies should be targeted to reduce preventable deaths. 

In most UNECE countries, mortality from mental disorders and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs has increased from 2000 to 2015, for both sexes. Men are usually more affected than women, and the gender gap has persisted.

Source: UNECE Statistical Database

Data: number of deaths caused by mental disorders, diseases of nervous system and sense organs, per 100 000 population. The (age-) standardized death rate (SDR) is a weighted average of age-specific mortality rates.