Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

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Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

The Mental Health Stigma in Mexico – Where is it going?

March 7, 2021 · No Comments · Mental Health, Uncategorized

The Hispanic population has generally high level of underreported mental health issues and stigma compared to other population groups.  In Mexico, a major concerns it that many do not seek treatment for mental health, even when facing significant and debilitating issues According to the

Mexican Ministry of Health, mental health-related disability represents 9.8% of the country’s total burden of disability-adjusted life years. The system in Mexico has a long way, with health professionals explaining the need for a fortification of the identification and treatment of mental illnesses and raise general awareness regarding the problems stemmed from mental health in the whole country.

Currently, Mexico’s government does not have a set policy to address mental health in their plan. Mental health has been studied to correlate other issues found in the country, including but not limited to violence, inequality, and poverty. According to a mortality statistic, mental health has increased by 33% between 2008 and 2014. During the same time, both men and women have also increased in mortality due to mental health disorders. The beginning of the period was also a time of social unrest as the Mexican government began suffering financial crisis as the Mexican government began its war against drugs.

Depression is the most common mental illness recognized to negatively affect a person’s mood, cognition, and behavior. Mexico’s disability-adjusted years (DALYs) had 4.19% in depressive disorders. DALYs are a globally recognized indicator to see the gap between the country’s current health status and what would be the ideal health situation for those who may not know. In 2002, A survey was conducted using the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI) to assess the epidemiological profile of mental disorders in Mexico. The survey revealed that 1 out of 8 Mexican citizens suffered from some depressive disorder and half of the survey participants had a depressive disorder within the last year. It also found that those of lower-income had a stronger correlation with increased mental disorders and those who were widowed, divorced, or separated. Those over 60 years old had a prevalence of 12.3% depressive disorder and individuals over 80 years old with a 21.7-25.3% with a depressive disorder.Women in Mexico are at greater risk for depression than men. Source: Irais Esparza, Wikimedia Commons.

Even though there is already a high prevalence, there is still a large probability that more people are suffering from depression in Mexico than what is currently being accounted for. The reasoning behind this possibility of having a higher prevalence is that currently, studies are not accounted for indigenous people and the stigma against mental disorders and cultural differences. These stigmas can result in significant report biases and can lead to that underestimation in the population. A big stigma against mental health disorders is known as “machismo” or, in English, male chauvinism. The belief is so strong that many believe that depression can be cured if you just have positive thoughts and that these feelings are only in mind. It’s also believed that mental illness is only for weak-minded individuals and that strong, mature persons will not suffer from them. Since mental health is also not something that can be seen, what doesn’t kill you makes you a stronger mentality. There is also a strong sentiment that those who seek mental health treatment are simply trying to find an excuse or escape for their daily problems. Also, these sentiments result in individuals not seeking care and continuing treatment.

With these obstacles and challenges for there is not adequate diagnoses and treatment at all levels of income. In 2002, Mexico launched a “New Model of Care for Mental Health” to eliminate human rights violations caused by the old model, such as Why Is the Doctor-Patient Relationship So Important?inhumane care and also involuntary psychiatric treatment. An organization known as “Secretario Técnico del Consejo Nacional de Salud Mental “(STCONAME) to dedicate to establishing public policies and national strategies for mental health. Several mental health plans were placed in the health plan ministry to promote information and prevent mental illnesses. The plans also focused on getting a better quality of care and reducing the cost of care. The biggest part of these plans is implementing primary care level clinics and specialized clinic sites to improve the diagnoses and treatment for those with mental health.

Fortifying the fundamentals of accessible care and diagnosing mental illness is a big part of what the country will need to combat the stigma.


  1. E, González, personal communication, April 5, 2016.
  1. Programa de Acción Específico Salud Mental 2013-2018. Mexican Ministry of Health. Retrieved from
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  4. Garcia-Peña, C., Wagner, F., Sanchez-Garcia, S., Juarez-Cedillo, T., Espinel-Bermudez, C., Garcia-Gonzalez, J., Gallegos-Carrillo, K., Franco-Marina, F., & Gallo, J. (2008). Depressive symptoms among older adults in Mexico City. Journal of General Internal Medicine23(12), 1973-1980.
  5. Weller, S., Baer, R., Garcia de Alba, J., Salcedo, A. (2008). Susto and nervios: Expressions for stress and depression. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 32(3), 406-420.
  6. Berenzon, S., Saavedra, N., Medina-Mora, M., Aparicio, V., & Galván, J. (2013). Evaluación del sistema de salud mental en México: ¿hacia dónde encaminar la atención?. Rev. Panam Salud Pública33(4), 252-8.


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