Some 500 million people suffer from mental disorders across the globe. In the European Union, mental disorders range as one of the leading causes of disease burden.
What makes the situation worse is that the prevalence of mental and neurological disorders is expected to grow for a variety of reasons: an ageing population will lead to an increased risk for age-related mental illness and neurological disorders, especially dementia and Parkinson's disease. By 2040, Alzheimer's disease will double in Western and triple in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, with increasing economic troubles, work-related psychosocial risk factors such as reduced job security, work intensification, and a poor work-life balance become more widespread, affecting both men and women.
Due to work-related stress and mental health problems, levels of absenteeism, unemployment and long-term disability claims are increasing. In many EU Member States they are the leading cause of sickness absence from work and permanent withdrawal from the labour market. Poor mental health can account for more than 40% of all long-term disability claims. Premature retirement on the grounds of poor mental health is also increasing. In the EU, work-related costs due to mental health problems are more than 2.5 times greater than those associated with cardiovascular disease: The total costs of absenteeism and premature retirement due to mental health disorders in the EU-25 (plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) were 136.3 billion in 2007, including 99.3 billion for depression and anxiety-related disorders.
Furthermore, mental disorders are common in older people and represent a barrier for active ageing. In the EU, 10% of those over 65 suffer from depression, and over 5 million people have dementia (about 1.1.3% of the population). The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is expected to rise dramatically with an ageing population, because it affects about 2% amongst 65 years olds and about 22% amongst those 85 years. In addition, older people are the group with the highest suicide rates in Europe (18.75 per 100000).
With the 22nd ECNP Congress 2009 in Istanbul, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) marks a contribution to meet the enormous burden and amount of suffering associated with mental disorders. The detailed way fundamental processes of the brain have been discovered in the last years is showing great promise of yielding methods to treat and prevent disorders of the brain. From 12 September 2009, renowned experts from 25 countries meet in Istanbul to present, discuss and evaluate the latest achievements and future perspectives in the fields of affective disorders, schizophrenia, drugs and addiction, brain plasticity, basic neuroscience and psychopharmacology. The high-calibre and well-balanced scientific programme of the congress, which includes over 100 topics to be presented by more than 600 experts, is dedicated to promoting the dissemination of new research findings and the exchange of ideas and information among clinicians and scientists in order to improve the situation of people struck by mental disorders.