Because most people focused on physical health during the pandemic, its impact on mental health was often overlooked. In Mexico, the Psychiatric Hospital Fray Bernandino Álvarez is the only one in the country specializing in the mental health of COVID-19 patients, reported the Ministry of Health.
The COVID-19 crisis increased health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as reported by MBN A study published in The Lancet found that 28 percent of the Mexican population in 2020 had experienced PTSD symptoms. The OECD also found that depression was nine times higher during the first months of the pandemic compared to the year before, as reported in this study.
To address the mental health crisis, the Ministry of Health published “The Response and Action Guidelines in Mental Health and Addictions for Psychosocial Support During The COVID-19 Pandemic in Mexico.” These instructions include key points such as target population, types of intervention and the actions needed for first line responders.
Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies also made changes to the General Law of Health to prioritize mental health and addiction prevention. This new approach introduced new and necessary protocols for the coming years that are necessary to give complete information about the proceedings and treatments needed in each case, according to the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City (CDHCM).
Although these changes are a must in the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) the new model lacks the structure and economic resources to achieve its goals, according to Animal Político. An important key point in the new General Law of Health is the closure of psychiatric hospitals so community centers can provide mental health services. However, there has not been an official explanation as to how and when these changes will be applied. The Federal Ministry of Health, for example, manages 33 psychiatric hospitals with a capacity for over 4,000 patients and these hospitals will have to be converted into general hospitals or outpatient centers. To do this, the sector needs economic resources and a clear plan to manage this transition and eliminate the stigmatization that mental health has had for several decades and is still present even in today’s society.