States Cut Mental Health BudgetsBy Rodrigo Brugada | Thu, 07/15/2021 - 13:11
Between 2020 and 2021, the federal government reduced by 81.6 percent the resources allocated to the states to attend to the population's mental health, as detailed in an analysis carried out by El Sol de Mexico. Currently, 12 states do not have federal resources to deal with complex mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.
The newspaper analyzed 288 agreements to provide subsidies for public health actions signed between 2013 and 2021 by the Federal Ministry of Health (SSA) and the state governments. The resources considered include those transferred to the states via subsidies, federal contributions and INSABI.
According to the analysis, state resources for mental health care increased during former President Enrique Peña Nieto's six-year term, from MX$210.3 million (US$10.58 million) in 2013 to MX$402.9 million (US$20.27 million) in 2018. In 2019, resources peaked at MX$456.7 million (US$22.97 million). While 2019 was the first year of the new administration, federal spending still carried the inertia of the previous administration.
In 2020, spending fell to MX$283 million (US$14.24 million) following reductions in federal transfers and the discontinuation of support to Seguro Popular’s fund due to the creation of INSABI. In 2021, the states are allocated MX$52 million (US$2.62 million) that came only from federal contributions as subsidies to the states and INSABI support disappearing completely. This way, the states saw a reduction of almost 82 percent of their mental health care resources.
The report indicates that this reduction has translated into a complete lack of funds for this purpose in 12 states: Aguascalientes, Baja California, Campeche, Coahuila, Colima, Chihuahua, Chiapas, Mexico City, Hidalgo, Sonora, Tabasco and Zacatecas. The amounts allocated for mental disorders are particularly scarce in Yucatan, which was assigned MX$40,000 (US$2,013), and Baja California Sur, which was assigned MX$63,000 (US$3,170).
While spending has been cut, mental illnesses in Mexico have followed the global rising trend. Cases of depression, for example, have been growing steadily since 2014, according to epidemiological data from the SSA, reaching an 81 percent increase in five years.
Entities with a significant rise in depression cases during the past few years are the ones that have suffered the most from mental health cuts. In addition to the resources allocated to the states, the federal government issues a portion of its budget to mental health, which is operated by the Technical Secretariat of the Mental Health Council, the National Institute of Psychiatry and the Psychiatric Care Services, all of which depend on the SSA. However, the budget to these three entities as a whole was also reduced by 2 percent between 2020 and 2021, from MX$1.65 billion (US$83.05 million) to MX$1.62 billion (US$81.39 million). This spending barely represents 1 percent of the entire federal health budget.
Given the expected increase in the official and actual prevalence of mental health conditions, it is essential to increase prevention and response capacities to these pathologies.