Available mental health services: is it only about professionals or institutions?

mental illness

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Maria Adelaida Orozco Vásquez, a 21 years old third-year medicine student from CES university in Medellín, Colombia. 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 numbers are overwhelming, forceful and sadly real. The OMS on its first report about suicide prevention mention that 804000 persons suicide per year, this means that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds every day. And the number it is rising. Suicide is the second cause of death in people from 15-29 years worldwide. Even if nowadays there are web pages, emergency lines, OMS reports, psychologist and psychiatrist. Why we keep having this statistics? And how can we improve the access we have to mental health services?

Besides, mental health is the result of the sum of social, environmental, personal, family, physiologic, neuro-chemical, emotional, and circumstantial factors that are part of each one of us, and in that regard the lines for prevention are not limited to health services.

Many myths surround suicide, and one of them I that each person that commits suicide has a mental illness, making this a taboo subject especially for the persons who is at risk. Because as we all know, mental illnesses are not taken as pathologies rather than mental weakness or a stage in our life. This is one concept we need to modify in order to make mental health services accessible for all.

There are tree focuses we must have in our lives to prevent suicide: family, friends and school. With no doubt, growing in a family net that provides support to each one of its members is a protector factor for suicide, being raised in a place where they teach you about personal growth, self-care, arts, expression, and even more important a place where you can express how you feel without fear of being rejected or judged. And this is something that does not happen really often in our society, on first instance because many myths surround suicide, and one of them is that every person that commits suicide has a mental illness, making this a taboo subject especially for the persons who is at risk. Because as we all know, mental illnesses are not taken as pathologies rather than mental weakness or a stage in our life, and this is the answer a person who is thinking about suicide do not wants.

Also, friends and the place where we work or study needs to be a place where mental health becomes a priority, were workers and students have access to information about warm signs, emergency lines, and instructions of what to do in case that a friend wants to suicide, this often does not happen because we think that if we talk openly about suicide people will consider it even more, but is not true. Sometimes talking is the first thing the person needs, and having a place to do it and a good listener can prevent it.

The misconception about thinking that “mental health services” are only about health professionals or institutions needs to change. People, institutions, society and media need to realize they are also a center for mental health and that they also have an impact.

References: Preventing Suicide. (2014). 1st ed. [ebook] Luxembourg, pp.14-25. Available at: https://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/exe_summary_spanish.pdf?ua=1 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2019].

About the author

Maria Adelaida Orozco Vásquez, (15/12/1997) 21 years old, is a third-year medicine student and CES university in Medellín, Colombia she has been part of ACEMCES from one year now. Went to work as a volunteer in Egypt, teaching first aids to youth and getting to know more about refugees during December 2018, and has a deep interest about mental health, neuroscience and environment.

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