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News Article

How the Pandemic Changed Mental Health

By Antonio Gozain | Wed, 09/29/2021 - 18:28

The pandemic accelerated changes in people’s perspective of mental health and shifted the industry in Mexico, revealed the ENCOVID-19 poll published by Universidad Iberoamericana.

As countries restricted movement to contain the spread of the pandemic, people experienced changes to their daily routines and many adopted teleworking or home-schooling, further limiting personal interaction. Others faced economic problems due to unemployment. During 2020, in Mexico 27.3 percent of individuals over 18-years-old presented depression symptoms and 32.4 percent suffered severe anxiety symptoms, according to ENCOVID-19.

Adaptation to new lifestyle changes was not easy for everyone, in addition to “managing the fear of contracting the virus and worry about people close to us who are particularly vulnerable,” said WHO. These circumstances prompted institutions to promote several mental health campaigns with general advice such as keeping informed, having a routine, minimizing newsfeeds, keeping social contact at least digitally and monitoring screen time and video games.

The pandemic shifted dramatically the perspective from people regarding mental health. From May 25, 2020, to June 11, 2020, when mobility restrictions in Mexico were at their peak, IMSS reported 1,379 requests for telephone attention trough its Mental Health Action Plan. “One of the positive aspects of the pandemic is that there is no return to the stigma people had about mental health. Psychiatrists became more important than ever after the lockdowns and other measures that COVID-19 brought,” said during Mexico Health Summit 2021 ECHO Edilberto Peña de León, Director General at CISNE México. “About 70 percent of the global population changed their sleeping patterns during the pandemic.”

The digital transformation triggered by the pandemic impacted the private mental health sector, which became more open to telemedicine. Psychologists and psychiatrists across Mexico and the world started offering telemedicine services and ended up accessing to a larger population of potential patients, even from different places. “Ten percent of my medical office’s patients are from different states or countries,” said Peña de León.

Psicólogos Sin Fronteras, an international organization founded in 2000, strengthen its position in Mexico during the last two years and launched a mental healthcare brigade in 2020 alongside jointly with Centro IC. The brigade offered free mental healthcare services during the pandemic through telemedicine and phone calls.

The increased attention in mental health, in addition to the technological tools that the pandemic boosted in Mexico, has changed the entire industry. However, there is still a long way to go regarding regulations, good practices, e-prescriptions and a legal framework to make telemedicine a reality, wrote in MBN Christian López-Silva, Partner of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Baker McKenzie. “We are not there yet in terms of setting the right regulation in relation to electronic prescription in Mexico.”

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, Universidad Iberoamericana, IMSS
Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst