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Accelerating Prevention through integrating Mental Health Services

Accelerating Prevention through integrating Mental Health Services into TB Programmes

An estimated 45% of people diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) experience depression. It can be caused by a range of factors, including the stigma that surrounds the condition. The combination of mental and physical ill health (the “comorbidity”) can affect infection-control, care-seeking behaviour, and medication adherence. TB treatment can itself contribute to stress and emotional strain.

United for Global Mental Health’s "Bending the Curve" report showed that integrating mental health care into TB services could result in as many as 14 million TB cases being avoided. That’s more than the predicted number of cases for any year between now and 2030.

It could also lead to better treatment outcomes, including medication adherence, treatment completion, and cure.

These findings are already being translated into policy, funding, and practice. Countries such as Mongolia and thePhilippines have incorporated mental health care into TB services. In Mongolia, organisations such as the Mongolian Anti-TB Coalition have advocated for including mental health in national HIV and TB funding requests to the GlobalFund. In the Philippines, mental health features prominently in the service package for both HIV and TB programmes, reflecting a commitment to comprehensive, integrated person-centred care.

Furthermore, the political declarations from the 2023 UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending TB included strong recommendations for the integration of mental health into TB care and services.

The World Health Organisation has taken a crucial step by providing a guidance document and an e-course on TB and mental health. This resource helps healthcare professionals identify and manage mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, during TB treatment. It marks progress towards a more compassionate approach to TB care. Beyond the physical health support required by those at risk of, or living with TB, many people also need mental health support and therefore we call upon stakeholders to ensure that mental health services are integrated into TB programming.

Sarah Kline, co-founder and CEO, United for Global Mental Health