In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, almost 1 billion people were living with a mental disorder, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Friday in presenting its latest World Report on Mental Health.
In 2020, in the first year of the pandemic, the WHO estimates that rates of depression and anxiety increased by 25 percent.
The report provides data that should concern us all.
For example: “On average, countries spend less than 2% of their health budgets on mental health. More than 70% of mental health spending in middle-income countries still goes to psychiatric hospitals. About half of the world’s population lives in countries where there is only one psychiatrist to care for 200,000 or more people. And the availability of essential psychotropic medications is limited, especially in low-income countries. Most people with diagnosed mental disorders go completely untreated.”
In Mexico, according to the 2022 National Household Survey prepared by Inegi, one in four people requires mental health care and only two in 10 receive it.
A fact that should concern those of us who live in a country where there is a lot of poverty:
“Poor mental health is closely linked to poverty in a vicious cycle of disadvantage. This handicap begins before birth and accumulates throughout life. People living in poverty may lack the financial resources to maintain living standards; they have less education and job opportunities; they are more exposed to adverse living environments; and are less likely to access quality health care. Daily stress puts people living in poverty at increased risk of experiencing mental health conditions (…) They are vulnerable to a downward spiral of lost resources and exclusion that can worsen existing mental health and increase the risk of substance use, being poor parents or failing in school. This reinforces the vicious cycle of poverty and poor mental health.”
On April 5, the Chamber of Deputies approved the initiative that reforms, adds and repeals various provisions of the General Health Law, which supposedly lays the minimum foundations to establish mental health and addiction prevention as priority axes within public health policies.
This reform has been rejected by specialists and various groups such as Reinserta, Fundación Reintegra and the Community Organization for Peace, because “it will generate an ‘overload’ in the tasks of caring for families, particularly women; and it will risk patients who do not have support networks to end up on the street or in jail (even when they are not liable)” and they have asked the National Human Rights Commission to ask the Supreme Court of Justice to initiate a petition to declare this new model unconstitutional.
In this, as in many other issues, the 4T government did not bother to consult experts on the matter and used its parliamentary majority to impose a model that, for those who know, is inoperative.
Facebook: Eduardo J Ruiz-Healy
Journalist and producer
Opinionist, columnist, lecturer, media trainer, 35 years of experience in the media, micro-entrepreneur.