Friday, October 10, 2014

The Americas Must Continue Move to Community-Based Mental Health Services

“The [mental health] treatment gap is the great challenge we face today,” said Jorge Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., unit chief for Mental Health and Substance Use at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington.

Tearing down barriers to access to services should come as part of universal health coverage and include the integration of mental health into general health services, and not in some parallel track, said Rodriguez, recounting provisions of PAHO’s strategic plan for 2014-2019 at a symposium today at PAHO headquarters on World Mental Health Day. Meeting that challenge will require cooperation by governments, health professionals, families and consumers.

However, in 20 of the 27 countries in North and South America with psychiatric hospitals, more than 50% of the mental health budget still goes to those institutions rather than to community-based systems, he said.

“We need a new vision of research, policy, clinical services, and education,” added Eliot Sorel, M.D., a clinical professor of global health, health services management and leadership and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, who helped organize the program. “Primary care physicians, pediatricians, and public-health people must be our allies. It is a shared responsibility.”

For more in Psychiatric News about international mental health, see: “WHO Report Emphasizes Need to Make Suicide Prevention a Global Priority.”

 (Image: Aaron Levin)


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