Three out of every 10 Spaniards suffer from some mental health disorder

Every October 10th the World Mental Health Day which, as the World Health Organization points out, is an opportunity to remember that “mental health is a universal human right” and it is necessary to promote measures to protect it and raise awareness in society about this public health problem that, in addition, It can affect anyone at some point in their life.

Thus, and according to data from the White Book on Psychiatry in Spain, recently presented and prepared by the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health (SEPSM), the mental health disorders They affect 29% of Spaniards. In the case of adults, they are more common in women, and the most common are anxiety disorderswhose prevalence has increased in recent years.

The data made public by the SEPSM has the objective of insisting that mental health “has been positioned as a priority public health problem given the increase in demand for care in this area, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.” .

Inequalities in access to mental health care in Spain

In this context, the president of the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health, the Dr. Manuel Martín Carrasco, highlighted that in Spain “there are currently 4,393 psychiatrists in the public mental health care network, which represents a ratio of 9.27 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants.” “These ratios leave Spain far from the average of other European countries such as, for example, Portugal (14), the Czech Republic (15), Belgium (17), or Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland (19); and light years from the reality of other neighboring countries more advanced in the matter such as Austria and Sweden (22), France (23), Norway (26) or Germany (28).”

“The lack of mental health professionals results in a deficit of resources to support people with mental disorders”

Dr. Martín states that in Spain “there is a serious problem of inequality in access to mental health services and more resources are needed to meet the growing demand.” “As reflected in the White Paper, there are regions such as the Basque Country and Catalonia that already have optimal ratios (15 and 13.3 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively), while in other areas such as Melilla (4.7 ), Ceuta (5.9), Valencian Community (5.9), Andalusia (6.2), Extremadura (6.8) or La Rioja (6.9) the situation is much more dramatic.”

“We need between 370 and 565 psychiatrists to join each year over the next 5 years, keeping the number of specialists in training constant, to reach optimal ratios of between 13 and 15 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants in the next five years,” he claimed. highlighting that “20% of Spanish psychiatrists will retire in the next five years, increasing the lack of resources in mental health care”

“The lack of mental health professionals (not only psychiatrists, but also clinical psychologists and mental health specialist nurses) results in a deficit of resources to support people with mental disorders,” he stressed.

SEPSM proposals to improve mental health in Spain

Improving the mental health of Spaniards is possible by adopting a series of measures proposed by the president of the Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Dr. Manuel Martín Carrasco:

  • Strengthen the human, healthcare and technological resources available, increasing the number of psychiatrists in all autonomous communities. To this end, they propose promoting the delay of retirement, improving working conditions and accelerating the approval of non-EU psychiatrists.
  • Increase and enhance the network of mental health care resources and their accessibility, taking into account the differences between communities.
  • Promote initiatives to support mental health in the workplace.
  • Coordinate and standardize Psychiatry service portfolios in the CCs. AA
  • Strengthen social and intersectoral coordination
  • Promote the digital transformation of Mental Health Services, information systems and patient data registration
  • Design a stepped and collaborative care model to organize the provision of services
  • Promote actions that help reduce the stigma of mental illness and increase the visibility of Psychiatry at all levels.
  • Develop updated health planning policies and tools at the state level in all areas considered priority, including budget, codes of good practices and standardized indicators
  • Develop a strategy to prevent and address suicidal behavior at the state level.
  • Update and review the National Mental Health Strategy, with the collaboration of Psychiatry specialists in the design and implementation of those regulations and strategies that could have an impact on people with mental disorders.

Preventing human rights abuses in mental health care

On the other hand, within the framework of World Mental Health Day, the WHO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have launched the new guide ‘Mental health, human rights and legislation: guidance and practice’ to support countries to reform legislation to prevent human rights abuses and coercive practices in mental health care that are still supported by law – such as involuntary hospital admission and treatment, conditions inadequate living conditions, and physical, psychological and emotional abuse – as well as increasing access to quality mental health care.

“Mental health is an integral and essential component of the right to health,” declared the Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO. “This new guidance will help countries make the changes necessary to provide quality mental health care that helps a person recover and respect your dignityempowering people with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities to lead full and healthy lives in their communities.”

“Our ambition must be to transform mental health services, not just in their scope, but in their underlying values, so that they truly respond to the needs and dignity of the individual. This publication offers guidance on how a rights-based approach can support the necessary transformation in mental health systems,” said Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Fuente: Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health (SEPSM) and World Health Organization (WHO)


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