Its been three weeks since our co-founder Maegan started working with Red de Vida down in Mexico. While settling in and learning the language, Maegan has been observing how the organization works. There is so much to learn when watching an organization work in another country and another culture. And so much to learn for moving forward with PIM projects here in Mexico.
A big part of Red de Vida’s work is community education. The organization attends schools, community centers and other gatherings to educate people on the problem of suicide in the province as well as the available resources. What is even better is that, once per month a group of practitioners from the community of Felipe Carrillo Puerto go as a team to a new community to talk about different mental health issues and the services in the area. Representatives from AA, the local governmental addictions office and the ministry of health join a representative from Red de Vida to chat, share and visit with families and schools. While the education of these issues is so valuable, especially for the secondary school children that they encounter, the involvement in these isolated communities poses some difficulties.
At no fault of Red de Vida or any other mental health organization, these services are few and far between. When traveling to small rural communities to inform them of the services, the services they are being told about are often many kilometers away by car. So while these individuals may know where the support systems are, they may not have the resources to get to them.
Red de Vida has closed this distance in some way by chatting with patients and clients via WhatsApp. This allows therapists to have contact with patients who are unable to come to the office. The lack of local and rural services is likely for the same reason that Red de Vida isn’t able to make house calls to these areas. There is just no funding.
This lack of funding, while a problem for mental health programs everywhere, is of extreme concern in this part of Mexico. According to the WHO in their last poll in 2011, Mexico had 0.03 outpatient mental health facilities per 100,000 people. Even if a community is lucky enough to have mental health facilities, their human resources are extremely low. The same data shows that there are only 1.57 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people, 0.55 psychologists or 0.33 social workers.
So what are we taking away so far? That we need to find more funding, more human resources and more community supports to start alleviating the pressure of mental health issues in communities in Mexico.
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