The dean of the Official College of Psychology in Madrid, José Antonio Luengo Latorre, takes stock of mental health in 2022 and outlines the challenges for 2023 in this article for EFEsalut
(Photo by Jason Hogan on Unsplash)
by José Antonio Luengo Latorre, dean of the College of Psychology in Madrid
We are leaving a year in which the debate on people’s mental health has not stopped raising its head in the different spaces where reflection emerges and beats on our model of society and the consequences and impacts it generates on the everyday life and in the way we read and interpret our day to day.
With their comings and goings, stumbles, falls and awakenings, joys and sorrows, pain and uncertainties.
The sequels, still persistent, of the experience lived since that inauspicious month of March 2020, continue to show the warning and crossed face.
However, there are few doubts about the disturbing antechamber of this milestone, the insistent indicators and evidence of how failures in mental health have been gaining ground in the population for a long time and, especially in the most disadvantaged strata and vulnerable.
And the very discreet response that was being given to this need by the responsible authorities.
Mental health on the political agenda
The presence of the debate on mental health on the political agenda and in the media, emerging from the first months of the pandemic, has continued to show flashes and signs, albeit with the risk of lethargy and “normalization”.
Studies and research on the consequences of what people have experienced emotionally and psychologically in these last almost three years have not stopped providing data and information, ordinarily recurrent, about the state of the matter and the imperative need to address a deep reflection on the social determinants of health in general, but of mental health as a priority.
Of particular relevance is the Report on the consequences that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on mental health and attention to mental health services published by the WHO.
The report highlights, among other effects, that during the pandemic there has been a significant increase in depression and anxiety problems, as well as that mental health services have been the most disrupted and affected of all essential health services in most of the analyzed WHO Member States.
Balance sheet 2022
The year 2022 has shown that we are not well. That we were not well. And that, past the past, we are no better. Collapsed services, long waiting lists and the perception of collapse.
Good intentions are never enough. And the strategies must be accompanied by sufficient funding. And a variable that we must not underestimate: the realization that we continue to interpret the needs for improvement by looking almost exclusively at what concerns specialized services, observing only the consequences, and not so much the causes of the increase in pain and suffering people
And this without stopping the attention due to the different scenarios where the difficulty, anxiety, discomfort, pain, suffering and, also, the disorder.
Without attending to the need to take care of where and how we live, the educational model we develop, the structure and objectives of our educational system, attention to vulnerable populations, the social determinants of mental health.
In other words, without paying attention to “the way we are taught to interpret and approach our difficulties: aging, trauma, anxiety or grief…”.
Without prejudice to the improvements in care that emerging applications in Information and Communication Technologies also deploy in the field of mental health (of particular interest is an app awarded at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Searching helpexperienced at the Psychiatry Service of the Hospital 12 d’Octubre in Madrid), innovations in the field of mental health do not go through the acquisition of sophisticated equipment but, with all certainty, through the significant increase of personal resources , structural improvements, training, coordination of services and continuity of care and the promotion of research on treatments and the development of programs for the reduction of psychotropic drugs.
And, of course, due to the consideration of mental health from a preventive perspective, linked to the necessary observation of what is experienced and substance at “short distances”, the day to day of people and the conditions of their health and mental health and an essential paradigm shift in mental health.
Consequently, the challenges for the year 2023 should be linked to a contextual and phenomenological vision of people’s psychological problems, deepening the preventive and community approach, the design and development of programs for the prevention and detection of maladjustments and psychological disorders in educational centers and the essential incorporation of educational psychology in this task, attention to the most disadvantaged populations in the field of social intervention, the consolidation of the psychological intervention model in Primary Care and, of course, the substantive improvement of personal resources in Mental Health, reaching the average ratios of professionals per 100,000 inhabitants of the European Union.
And as it has been expressed, go to the source of the problems. In this space we will find ways to respond to current needs.