Objective: Mental health economic studies from developing countries were reviewed in the context of such studies from developed countries. Method: Mental health economic studies were ascertained through a systematic Medline search, chasing references at the end of papers acquired from the initial medline search and details of studies furnished by members of the WHO collaborating centre. Results: Only a small number of mental health economic studies from developing countries were identified. They were mainly cost‐of‐illness and cost‐effectiveness studies. Conclusion: Psychiatric disorders impose a significant burden in developing countries. It is not always possible to extrapolate findings from developed countries to developing countries. Potential avenues for future research and development are discussed.