The Future of Mental Health in Latin America

In Latin America, only 0.90% of the health budget is invested in psychiatric hospitals, which is the main treatment of mental health conditions across Central America, Mexico, the Latin Caribbean and South America.

This shocking statistic provides an insight into the negligence the governments in Latin America have towards mental health. But as cases of mental health conditions rise this budget needs to be assessed and the ways of dealing with mental health need to be updated.

How Many People in Latin America Suffer from Mental Health Conditions?

Depression is the most common mental health condition worldwide with over 264 million people suffering from it. In Latin America, depression affects 5% of the adult population, however, most people don’t seek or receive treatment for it.

Sara León from Monederosmart said “Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are more common in parts of Latin America, compared to elsewhere in the world. In Latin America, these disorders account for 21% of all disability-adjusted life years and 34% of years lived with disability. That is compared with these disorders affecting 10% of all disability-adjusted life years for people worldwide, and 29% of years lived with disability for people worldwide.”

She goes on to state “Latin America’s mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are higher than other parts of the world due to a range of factors. For example, poverty plays a big role in the likelihood of developing depression. Other factors include domestic and gang violence, cultural, family, and religious beliefs towards mental health conditions and seeking the appropriate care, and political instabilities and armed conflicts.”

What Is in Store for the Future of Mental Health in Latin America?

Mental health in Latin America has a lot of improvement that needs to happen. Some organisations have started to set in to help Latin America. Detailing and implementing strategies, these organisations hope to do three things.

  1. Strengthen Primary Care

Mental health care is to be made more accessible to all by the strengthening of primary care. Creating more services that are available to people and communities is at the forefront of the plans for Latin America’s mental health system. Involving mental health in primary care is a big step for Latin American countries, as previously mental health has been seen as a specialty.

      2. Train Medical Staff

Another important strategy to improve mental health in Latin America is to ensure that general medical staff are trained to recognise and diagnose mental illnesses. This will help those who are suffering from mental health conditions get diagnosed sooner and get the help they need.

      3. Remove Stigma

Latin America also needs to change the way people view mental health. Removing stigma surrounding mental health and removing barriers, will help to ensure that people receive the treatment they need.

To help remove stigma, Latin America must create a community whereby mental health care is accessible for all and nobody is discriminated against. For example, mental health care should be provided regardless of if the person is employed or not.

Mental health is important for everyone, no matter where you are in the world. That’s why starting conversations and seeking the relevant care you need is vital.

If you or someone you know is feeling depressed or is suffering from any other mental health illness, make sure you or they seek help. Use this guide to find out how you can secure better mental health and look after yourself.

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