Improving coverage of mental health services

ambulances

(Zhen Hu, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Juan Pablo Robles Carrasquilla, a 19 year old and second year medical student at
Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Mental, neurological and substance use disorders (MNS) are one of the most prevalent group of diseases affecting us right now, and one of the most significant public health challenges we face today. Is estimated that around one billion people worldwide had an MNS disorder in 2016, or 1-in-7 people in the world [1]. These disorders also cause a considerable amount of burden for the people affected by them and their societies, with roughly 14% of global burden of disease attributed to MNS disorders [2].

The data here is considered an underestimation of the actual situation due to several factors, however, is clear the impact these disorders have in our society, so it would be logical to have wide access to any mental health service to help individuals afflicted by any MNS disorder, right? Unfortunately, the reality is different and quite dire to be fair, with an existing gap between the need to reduce the burden of these disorders and the resources available to do so. Several people with an MNS disorders do not receive the treatment and care needed to overcome their problems and get well.

Why there is such a low access to service focused on mental health prevention and treatment and how can we change that? One of the reasons people don’t access to any service is ignorance. MNS disorders are mostly silent diseases, with almost no physical symptoms, so there is a misconception that these diseases are not real, “just a phase” or that people with any mental disorder doesn’t want to seek help, ignoring the realities and pain of anyone suffering from one of them. Ignorance can also lead to stigma, marking not only the illness per se, but also those who are ill, their families, and any institution trying to provide treatment. Stigma discriminates in every aspect of life, resulting in a decrease of self-esteem and self-confidence of the person experiencing the MNS disorder, reluctance to seek help, low treatment effect and high probability of relapse, and reluctance from our communities to invest in strategies to help and care for these individuals. It creates a vicious circle that undermines any progress in developing ways to implement mental health services [3].

Eliminating ignorance and stigma is a must if we want to increase access and coverage of mental health services, and is possible through education. Going to the communities and provide information about the reality of mental health and MNS disorders is an approach capable of leaving a positive attitude in the public, so they can have a better understanding and make more informed decisions about these illness, eliminate any stereotype and stigma against those individuals affected by them, and thus, stopping discrimination [4]. Normalising and opening up about mental health improve the self-esteem and confidence of afflicted people and encourages them to seek help and integrate with their communities without fear of being rejected.

Is possible to clear the gap regarding mental health, but to do so, is necessary to have a society willing to take the leap. As a social species, mental health should be seen as an important part of well-being of everyone, and teaching about it is the first step if we want to tackle the problematic of low access to these services and venture to a humanity capable to recognise the value of their mental well-being in their lives.

References

  1. Rehm J, Shield K. Global Burden of Disease and the Impact of Mental and Addictive Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019; 21(10).
  2. WHO. mhGAP: Mental Health Gap Action Programme: scaling up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. Geneva: WHO; 2008.
  3. Sartorius, N. Sartorius, N. (2007). Stigma and mental health. The Lancet. 2007; 370(9590): 810–811.
  4. Corrigan P, Watson A. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002 Feb; 1(1): 16–20.

About the author

Juan Pablo Robles Carrasquilla, is a 19 year old and second year medical student at
Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia. He is currently a member of ACAMC and
ASCEMCOL.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Kellen Europe Hosts EuroConference 2016

Coronavirus response and recovery: EU support for regions to work together in innovative pilot projects

The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Microsoft says the internet is getting a little nicer

Iraq: UN mission urges ‘maximum restraint’ following deadly attack on foreign troops

Data protection: Commission decides to refer Greece and Spain to the Court for not transposing EU law

Syria’s groundbreaking constitutional talks: ‘a clear success of mediation’ says Guterres in Turkey

Our children’s career aspirations have nothing in common with the jobs of the future

African Peace Facility: African Union Peace & Security Operations boosted by an additional €800 million from the European Union

We need better alignment between climate and trade. Here’s a roadmap

Antimicrobial resistance: how can an intersectoral approach between society and healthcare professionals be developed and applied?

COVID vaccination campaign. What are the challenges?

This project is decarbonizing the UK area with the highest industrial CO2 emissions

Precision medicine should be accessible to all

Apparently the EU Digital Single Market passes necessarily from China’s Digital Silk Road

As the year closes out, UN political chief talks the art of diplomacy – and crises to watch in 2019.

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

The US pipeline attack shows the energy sector must act now on cybersecurity. Here are 6 ways how

The current devaluation of primary health care professionals

State of the Energy Union: Progress made on the clean energy transition and a basis for green recovery

Why women have an essential role in biodiversity conservation

Election 2019: New, Updated seat projection for new Parliament

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

The rise of vulnerable populations and care measures: what has been learned so far in times of the pandemic

Climate experts pledge to scale up high-altitude fight against mountain melt

‘No-deal’ Brexit preparedness: European Commission takes stock of preparations and provides practical guidance to ensure coordinated EU approach

This Canadian company transforms plastic waste into building materials

Mergers: Commission refers acquisition of newly created joint venture by Telefónica and Liberty Global to the UK competition authority

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Does EURES really exist?

How central banks are tackling climate change risks

We had the hottest June ever this year – this is what happened around the world

This is how good governance can make sure technology works for everyone

Mozambique pledging conference hopes to soften devastating blow of back-to-back cyclones

MEPs demand safe and clean travel

Why we must reimagine capacity building to strengthen education after COVID-19

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

Newly displaced fleeing attacks in northeast Nigeria, top 2,000

African elephants under continued threat of poaching, warns UN-backed report

To build back better, we must reinvent capitalism. Here’s how

EU approves close to €240 million to strengthen resilience in neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees in light of the coronavirus pandemic

10 ways regulators need to change in 2020

Humans account for only 0.01% of life on Earth – but our impact has been immense

UN human rights chief regrets closure of Burundi office following Government pressure

GSMA Announces Latest Event Updates for 2018 “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

The key takeaways of G7 Summit in Canada

Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights : the role of medical students.

How the digital economy is shaping a new Bangladesh

UN commission agrees roadmap on ensuring women’s social protection, mobility, safety, and access to economic opportunities

UK Labour Party leader Corbyn readies to change Brexit political backdrop

How a ‘recipe dataset’ could help tackle obesity and diabetes

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Focus on EU’s external action and building our stronger inner core: von der Leyen at the Special European Council

EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

State aid: Commission approves €650 million Polish support to LOT in context of coronavirus outbreak

Commission’s report shows that targeted investment and robust digital policies boost Member States’ performance

EU countries invested €5 trillion abroad

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

Why cybersecurity should be standard due diligence for investors

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s