Precarious mental health: together is the only way

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Laura A. Martinhago and Mr. Tamires Santos Pinheiro, two Brazilian third year medical students, currently studying at UniCesumar, in Maringá-PR. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Loneliness is a negative universal feeling between the humans, because is part of our biological structure. The natural selection described being together as part of a community increased the survival of our ancestors, so sadness was a manifestation of “social hurt”, a protective reflex against the isolation which encouraged us to stay in group1. However, prolonged sadness associated with other mood swings compose the clinical features of depression – a mental disorder which affects 800 thousand people per year around the world2 (epidemiology before coronavírus pandemic, so nowadays could be raised).

Considering our biological necessity to live in a group, we could use this as support to find a solution for the experiences of emotional pain. An excellent form to fight mental disorders is socialization like support groups, for example, as a therapeutic resource3. In Maringá (a city from the south of Brazil) there is a Local Association of Parkinson which is a group with Parkinson’s patients and their families so they can make activities together and share experiences about the disease – how was the diagnostic and daily difficulties even psychiatric comorbidity (depression and dementia).

This group is a non-governmental organization and receives support from the community and sometimes with university projects with health education promoted by medical students. Therefore these types of support groups are necessary and could be developed by the Young generation in the churches, schools or neighborhoods with frequent meetings about solving common problems and sharing experiences in mental health.

There is a lot of deadlocks when we talk about the legislation in Brazil, mainly about the mental health and suicide. After 22 years of legislation, the country finally implemented a National Politics4 and one year later a Management Committee of National Politics of Prevention the self-mutilation and the suicide5 with the purpose to impose the actions of the Health Unit System6: promotion, prevention and recovery for people of all ages who, unfortunately, is passing through psychic suffering.

These laws only were updated, because of the repercussions evidenced on recent articles, epidemiology and social media which demonstrated the public calamity for this topic. The scare of talking about suicide as creating a way to solve the problems for who was feeling sad but never imagineto do this by itself and the ingrained stigma to belittle this feeling are limitations that need to be overcome2.

So disclose about this politics, help centers of mental disorders, support groups and promove campaign not only in yellow September, but all of the year can reduce the suicide death rates achiving one of the targets of the third Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Thus, when can further strengthen Brazilian legislation and development of this in actions for the citizens who have the right to live and not only survive.

Therefore, the change of paradigm in mental health wich allow prevent suicide, in Brazil and in the World, depends of the civil and governamental actions. Collectively, individuals can form support groups about the common difficulties like depression favoring social insertion and encourage co-responsibility for their own health.

At governamental level, places where there is already politics about mental health need to disclose it to break the stigma which is very ingrained in society and make the access of resources already made available by the government. Our genetic programming anti-isolation contributed to bring humanization and confidence to win the challenges – together.

1Cacioppo John T. / Patrick William – Solidao:

2 SETTI, Victor Mauro Gonçalves. Políticas Públicas e prevenção do suicídio no Brasil. Îandé: Ciências e Humanidades, [S.L.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 104-113, 14 dez. 2017. Fundacao Universidade Federal do ABC – UFABC.
3HEBERLE, Andréia Yess; OLIVEIRA, LA de. Grupos terapêuticos em saúde mental: Uma modalidade na prática dos serviços de atenção à saúde mental. Trabalho de Conclusão de Especialização em Saúde Coletiva: Estratégia Saúde da Família, Joaçaba, UNOESC, 2016.
4BRASIL. Lei nº 13.819, de 29 de abril de 2019. A Política Nacional de Prevenção da Automutilação e do Suicídio. Brasília, DF, Disponível em: Acesso em: 25 set. 2022.
5BRASIL. Lei nº 10.225, de 05 de fevereiro de 2020. Comitê Gestor da Política Nacional de Prevenção da Automutilação e do Suicídio. Brasília, DF, Disponível em: Acesso em: 25 set. 2022.
6BRASIL. Lei nº 8.080, de 19 de setembro de 1990.Condições para a promoção, proteção e recuperação da saúde, a organização e o funcionamento dos serviços correspondentes e dá outras providências. Brasília, DF, Disponível em: Acesso em: 25 set. 2022.

About the authors

Laura A. Martinhago is a Brazilian third year medical student, currently studying at UniCesumar, in Maringá-PR. In the first year was part of the local team of exchange and in the second of research and published team (nupec) and local exchange officer in IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar.  This year is part of the National Exchange Team, of the Academic League of Transplant and Academic League of Cariology.

Tamires Santos Pinheiro is a Brazilian third year medical student, currently studying at UniCesumar, in Maringá-PR. In addition to being a Local Coordinator of IFMSA Brazil, she is also a member of the Marketing Department in Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center and member of the board of the Academic League of Mental Health of UniCesumar. Inspired by the strength and determination of powerful women, she aims to change the world, one individual at a time, through psychiatry.

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