World Mental Health Day: How is Latin America?

Today, on World Mental Health Day, we study the panorama on the subject in Latin America.

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LatinAmerican Post

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Leer en español: Día mundial de la salud mental: ¿Cómo está Latinoamérica?

World Mental Health Day has been celebrated every October 10 since 1992. That is, this event has existed for 32 years. It was an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, which turns 75 this year, and was established by the WHO.

Indeed, this is a day to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. This year in particular, the event wants to vindicate mental health as a fundamental human right.

Indeed, public interest in mental health is a relatively recent phenomenon. Although it has been studied for several centuries, it has not really been until a few decades ago that governments take it seriously and consider it a fundamental right. "However, PAHO says on its website, in the Region of the Americas stigma, discrimination and human rights violations continue to persist" towards people with mental health problems.

"In many countries in the Region, people with mental health problems often do not have access to quality services, are subjected to coercive practices, inhuman treatment and, in some cases, abuse, even in health care settings, where "should be protected" PAHO continues to diagnose.

What is the mental health panorama in Latin America?

It is known that mental health is completely related to the environment of each individual. In this way, the political and economic crises of each country can affect the mental health of its inhabitants. As well as wars or violence specific to each context.

These situations, not at all foreign to Latin America, can not only affect mental health, but also make it difficult to access treatments or therapies for mental and emotional health. In the midst of an economic crisis, for example, the first service an individual cuts will be psychotherapy. This is why it is urgent to pay attention to this year's motto of World Mental Health Day: "mental health is a human right."

For example, according to the Venezuelan NGO Community Learning Centers, the risk of suicide among children and adolescents in Venezuela rose 17.9% this year. This deterioration in the mental health of young Venezuelans may be related, along with other factors specific to the region, to the crisis in which the country has been experiencing for several years. The hopelessness of their socioeconomic environment takes a toll on their mental health.

Read also: Venezuela: 126 Minimum Monthly Salaries Cover a Basic Family Basket

According to PAHO, "regional estimates show that just over 60% of 39 countries have an independent mental health law, and almost half of 37 countries lack an authority dedicated to evaluating compliance with international human rights instruments, or the one that exists is not working." Thus, in Latin America, mental health is still not treated as a fundamental right nor is it a priority for governments.

What to do in this scenario?

PAHO states that "countries should promote regulatory and policy initiatives to support mental health as a universal human right. While limiting practices that encourage human rights violations. This includes establishing mental health laws that respect the principles of international human rights instruments, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)".

And it continues: "PAHO remains committed to working alongside countries, providing technical support to develop mental health legislation that complies with international conventions and advocating for the rights of each individual, beyond borders and inequalities."

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