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Spain announces new €100 M mental health action plan

Measures will include 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and training for medical professionals

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09 October 2021 02:31 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

Spanish president Pedro Sánchez announced the creation of a new mental health action plan on Saturday, the day before World Mental Health Day.

The scheme, which will have a €100 M budget at its disposal until 2024, will include measures such as the creation of a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline as well as specialized training for medical professionals. 

"Mental health is a priority for my government," Sánchez said. "The mental health strategy had not been updated since 2009. This plan is a roadmap that seeks to take firm steps towards improving mental health."

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 health crisis – and in particular, the uncertainty and strict restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic – 5.8% of Spain's population has confessed to suffering depression or anxiety, while over a million people have serious mental health issues but only half are being treated for them.

Almost half of 15- to 29-year-olds, Sánchez said, admit to having had mental health problems.

"The stories and the figures are well known," the Spanish president said. "We're not talking about cold and foreign percentages, but realities that affect over seven million young people."

'Emotional wellbeing' counselors in Catalonia

In Catalonia, the public health system is set to hire 105 more 'emotional wellbeing' counselors for primary care centers by the end of the year and another 200 in 2022. 

45 mental professionals have already gotten to work in lower-income areas with greater levels of social unrest, Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon explained on Friday. Most of these newly hired CatSalut workers are psychologists, although there are some social workers among them.

Covid-19 and mental health

Over a year and half of the pandemic, and with it health-related anguish, fear, isolation, and anxiety, have taken a toll on mental health.

This is as true for medical professionals, who have been at the frontlines of the crisis—almost half of them, a study found, are at a high risk of mental health issues and 1 in 4 have considered quitting—as it is for pregnant women or victims of gender-based violence and even society as a whole: according to a CIS poll, 23.4% of people in Spain have been scared of dying of Covid-19 and slightly over a third admitted crying over the pandemic. 

Help available

If you or someone you know is struggling it is important to reach out for professional help, below you can find links for resources and support:

Activitat per la salut mental, which has a list of support groups in Catalonia: http://activatperlasalutmental.org/lactivat/el-circuit-activat/grups-dajuda-mutua/

Barcelona suicide helpline: 900 925 555

Barcelona Network of English-speaking therapists: http://www.barcelonanest.com/

Forum Salut Mental: https://forumsalutmental.org/ca/entitats

Salut Mental Catalunya: https://www.salutmental.org/que-fem/acompanyament-a-les-persones/

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  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez in Barcelona on September 15, 2021 (by Sílvia Jardí)

  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez in Barcelona on September 15, 2021 (by Sílvia Jardí)

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