Mexico is the second country in the world with the highest level of stigma in terms of mental illness, only behind Ukraine, so there is an urgent need to change the vision of these diseases, specialists considered this Friday.

“We continue to be a society that discriminates and stigmatizes mental patients and that is why those who suffer from this type of disease hide it,” Dunia Pintado Izundegui, president of the association Voz Pro Salud Mental, told Efe.

The specialist highlighted that mental illnesses affect a third of the Mexican population and, according to data from the 2018 National Health Survey (Ensanut), 28.6% of Mexicans said they had suffered a mental disorder at some time in their life.

Dr. Bernardo NG Solís, president of the Mexican Psychiatric Association, assured that depression is one of the most frequent mental illnesses in the population, however, it is often minimized because it is confused with sadness.

“Psychiatric patients are believed to be ill at will. But together with diabetes and hypertension they are serious, as these diseases aggravate the state,” said the specialist.

He explained that major depressive disorder is the most common chronic condition after hypertension, but it is not as visible because most patients are not diagnosed with this disorder.

“That is why it is essential to train health professionals, especially first-contact doctors, since depression, anxiety and suicide risk could be detected from that first level,” he said.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 800,000 people commit suicide worldwide each year. In fact, it is estimated that every 40 seconds a person commits suicide, which is worrying since this can be preventable.

He highlighted that in Mexico two decades ago, suicide deaths were 7.5 per 100,000 inhabitants; while currently this figure has risen to 15 per 100,000.

In fact, the WHO considers depression to be the leading cause of death in countries like Mexico by 2020.

He expressed that the main danger is in the younger population, since adolescents have become the second cause of death in the country.

However, he stressed that less than 20% of those with an affective disorder seek some type of help and it is believed that those who do take up to 14 years to get specialized treatment.

In addition, only half of those who come to ask for help receive adequate treatment.

Pintado regretted that despite the severity of these diseases, in Mexico only 2% of the health budget is allocated to these conditions. “It takes a lot more support and a lot more effort to attack them,” he said.

But mental illnesses are only a part of the so-called Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which are one of the greatest challenges facing health systems in Latin America and, in Mexico alone, are the cause of almost 80% of total The deaths.

These diseases, according to Dr. Agustín Lara, member of the Scientific Committee of the Mexican Diabetes Federation, are characterized by being long-lasting, having a slow progression and resulting from the combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors.

They are grouped into four types: cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and most of them are preventable.

These topics were debated at the Upjohn Mexico Noncommunicable Diseases Forum, in Mexico City, where specialists met to share knowledge and seek solutions to these problems.

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