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Mental health disorders research in Europe, 2001–2018
  1. Mursheda Begum1,
  2. Grant Lewison2,
  3. Eva Wölbert3,
  4. Karen Berg Brigham4,5,
  5. Meryl Darlington4,5,
  6. Isabelle Durand-Zaleski4,5,
  7. Richard Sullivan2
  1. 1 Business Studies, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  2. 2 Cancer Policy Unit, Guy's Hospital, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3 MQ Transforming Mental Health, London, UK
  4. 4 URC ECO, AP-HP, Paris, France
  5. 5 UPEC, Creteil, Île-de-France, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Grant Lewison, King's College London, London SE1 9RT, UK; grantlewison{at}


Background The burden of mental health disorders in Europe is well above the world average and has increased from 11.5% to 13.9% of the total disease burden in 2000 and 2015. That from dementia has increased rapidly, and overtaken that from depression as the leading component. There have been no analyses of the research activity in Europe to combat this burden.

Methodology We identified research papers in the Web of Science (WoS) with a complex mental health disorders filter based on title words and journal names in the years 2001-18, and downloaded their details for analysis.

Results European mental health disorders research represented less than 6% of the total biomedical research. We estimate that research expenditure in Europe on mental health disorders amounted to about €5.4 billion in 2018. The Scandinavian countries, with Croatia and Estonia, published the most relative to their wealth, but the outputs of France and Romania were less than half the amounts expected.

Discussion and conclusions The burden from mental health disorders is increasing rapidly in Europe, but research was only half what would have been proportional. Suicide & self-harm, and alcohol misuse, were also neglected by researchers, particularly since the latter also causes many physical burdens, such as foetal alcohol syndrome, interpersonal violence, and road traffic accidents. Other relatively neglected subjects are sexual disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity and sleep disorders. There is an increasing volume of research on alternative (non-drug) therapies, particularly for post-traumatic stress and eating disorders, notably in Germany.

  • psychiatry
  • adult psychiatry

Statistics from


  • Contributors MB and GL contributed equally to the design of the study, literature search, data analysis and production of figures. The filter was developed by ID-Z, KBB and MMD. MB collected the data with guidance from GL. MB, GL, EW, KBB, MMD, ID-Z and RS wrote and edited the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (contract EC/FP7/602536). RS and GL were also supported through the UK Research and Innovation GCRF Research for Health in Conflict (R4HC-MENA): developing capability, partnerships and research in the Middle and Near East (MENA) (ES/P010962/1). Mapping_NCD was funded by the European Union.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request from GL and he will advise on reuse. There is a published protocol available: Berg Brigham et al. Health Research Policy and Systems (2016) 14:39 DOI 10.1186/s12961-016-0111-6.

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