Volume 17, Issue 2
EPIDEMIOLOGICAL INFORMATION FOR THE FORMULATION OF MENTAL HEALTH POLICIES: THE CASE OF CHILE
This paper reviews socio-demographic and epidemiological contributions to the planning of mental health services fin Chile, as compared to other Latin American countries, and highlights the role that intelligence gathering has played in the National Mental Health Plan in Chile. Given the general characteristics of the country (descending birth rates and an ageing adult population) and a relatively low budget for mental health programs, the National Plan has concentrated on community outpatient care. Epidemiological data show that depressive disorders, anxiety and alcohol / chemical abuse are the most prevalent. This has led to the development of Explicit Guarantees in health care for depressive disorders and addictions. Moreover, this includes the first stages of schizophrenia, a serious mental disturbance that requires early diagnosis for treatment to be effective. It is also important to measure the impact of these treatments systematically. Accordingly, the results obtained by using an assessment tool (Lambert et al.'s OQ 45.2 as adapted for Chile by Von Bergen and De la Parra) in a psychiatric short stay in a public hospital of the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile are analyzed. The main findings of this application are high drop-out rates during treatment by consultants. However, those who complete their treatment show significant improvements after receiving general psychiatric treatment and especially after psychotherapeutic interventions. This article also examines material resources (in terms of the number of psychiatric beds, which are few and concentrated in specialized establishments) and human resources in mental health. Professional psychologists are shown to be the largest group, followed by psychiatrists, with a noticeable lack of neurologists, nurses and specialized social workers. It concludes by reviewing the progress to date of the National Program since it was formulated in 1998.
National Mental Health Plan for Chile, epidemiological data on mental health in Chile