Mental Healthcare Only Accessible to Half of the World PopulationBy Antonio Gozain | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 12:08
The COVID-19 pandemic affected people’s lifestyles across the world, increasing the risk of mental health disorder cases. Still, less than 50 percent of people suffering a mental disorder has access to appropriate healthcare, according to WHO.
Like every three years, WHO published its Mental Health ATLAS 2020 on Friday, where it highlighted that only 51 percent of its 194 member states has a national mental healthcare plan in accordance to international human rights standards. Meanwhile, 52 percent has prevention programs and mental healthcare awareness campaigns. In both cases, WHO member states had set a goal of 80 percent back in 2017, according to EFE.
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. Despite the increasing problems, the suicide rate decreased by 10 percent, said WHO, although pointing that only 35 of the 194 member states have suicide prevention strategies.
While investment in mental health has been stuck for years at an average of 2 percent of total public health budgets, only 25 percent of the countries has integrated mental health to their primary healthcare system, with most of the resources allocated to mental healthcare institutions, said WHO. Regarding social security, welfare and insurance systems, coverage increased 7 percent among member countries, going from 73 to 80 percent between 2020 and 2021.
WHO’s Mental Health ATLAS 2020 shows a slight improvement regarding available mental health professionals. The global ratio of mental health workers went from 9 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014 to 13 per 100,000 in 2020.
In Mexico, there are 4,600 psychiatrists, according to Scielo, representing an average of 3.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. Of the available professionals, only 1,400 work in the public healthcare system and 60 percent of them are based in Mexico City, State of Mexico, Jalisco and Nuevo Leon, reported El Economista. The Benito Juarez municipality in Mexico City concentrates 20 percent of the total psychiatrists in the country. Meanwhile, Mexico has roughly 308,000 psychologists, according to the Labor Observatory of STPS, which represents a 256 per 100,000 inhabitants ratio.
In 2020, 27.3 percent of Mexicans over 18 years of age presented depression symptoms and 32.4 percent suffered severe anxiety symptoms, according to ENCOVID-19.
Adapting to new lifestyles was not easy for everyone, which became more challenging as people dealt with the fear of contracting the virus and the worry of losing those who were most vulnerable, said WHO