The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

mental health

(Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Paula Costa Guimarães, a twenty years old second year Brazilian medical student at UNP, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. She 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.

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

Mental health is a growing issue today and highly recurrent in the consultations of primary care. Even if the patient’s main complaint is not related to his/her psyche, is noted that the psyche is an important factor that triggers several other conditions.

Moreover, globalization and the so-called Liquid Modernity, described by Zygmunt Bauman, directly contributes to mental illness of the population, which is smothered by charges, demands and by time itself. Consequences of Liquid Modernity, where nothing is concrete, it is volatile, coursing through the clutter of social spheres such as love, culture, work, influencing directly on the psychological capital of this population. A low psychological capital can lead to mental illness and consequently the increase in suicide cases.

Thus, when performing an association with my local area, Natal, a city located in the state of Rio Grande do Norte in northeastern Brazil, it can be said that the mental health demand is extensive, reflecting not only the above context but also the local socio-economic vulnerability. Between 2000 and 2015 there was a 46% increase in mortality rates from intentional self-harm at the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The population can have access to mental health services by the public system and as a gateway to primary care. However, in practical terms, the system is sometimes dysfunctional and inadequate for demands due to population density.

The health service is available; however, those present in areas of high population densities are more crowded than those present in less populated areas. This may characterize a functional disorganization. Here in Brazil the service is called “CAPS”, acronym which in Portuguese means “Psychosocial Care Centers”, and has doctors specializing in mental health, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other therapists.

The first step to increase the population’s access to those centers would be to break the local prejudice as to mental health. This subject is treated often by the media as something abnormal, scary and with prejudiced, which contributes directly to the rejection by the population on the subject. The mental health conditions could be approached in a more professional and deconstructed manner through public lectures and social programs.

The second step would be the disclosure of the existence of specialized centers offered by the public service and their locations. The CAPS is distributed throughout the local area and the ideal would be that each individual attend the center in his/her residential area, avoiding overcrowding other centers. For this, the public policies should ensure local support in the primary health clinics for the population, which counts on specialized professionals who would be able to explain the users about CAPS and how they could provide supports.

Finally, the third step involves investments by the State in mental health policies in order to improve the quality of service, making it really functional and efficient, contributing directly to the trust of the local population that it will actually be able to help him/her, stimulating the population to utilize the service.


1 – Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. 1st ed. Cambridge(UK): Polity Press; 2000.

2 – LUTHANS, Fred., e YOUSSEF, Carolyn. Human, social, and now positive psychological capital management: Investing in people for competitive advantage. Journal Organizational Dynamics, 33 (2), p. 143-160, 2004.

3 – Santos, E.G.O, Barbosa, I.R, Severo, A.K.S. Spatio-temporal analysis of suicide mortality in Rio Grande do Norte from 2000 to 2015. Cien Saude Colet [internet periodic] (2018/Jul). [Accessed on October 26, 2019]. Avaible at:<>

4 – Ministério da Saúde. Mental Health at SUS: Psychosocial Care Centers. Internet manual, Brasília, DF, 2004. Accessed on October 26, 2019. Avaible at: <>

About the author

Paula Costa Guimarães is twenty years old second year Brazilian medical student at UNP, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. She is the local communication and marketing director at IFMSA BRAZIL – UNP at her local committee. She likes themes that includes human rights, equality and human dignity. She used to be a local coordinator at human-rights projects aiming to work on local vulnerabilities. She is also very interested in research, just starting her production of research articles. She plans to always keep a link between clinical work, research and criticism.

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