Covid 19 and the Mental Health Map
Since March we are in isolation and although suicide rates remain stable, it can be seen significant increase in risk factors such as a rise in cases of anxiety and depression, financial and personal losses, increased domestic violence and the feeling of helplessness, in addition to political instability with an unprepared government; situations that may influence the increase in suicide rates in the future.
Brazil had advances with the approval of the National Policy for the Prevention of Self-harm and suicide in 2019, but the suicide prevention walks in slow steps. However, during the isolation period, we observed a mobilization of civil society and professionals to meet the need in crisis and mental health, offering free online individual or group support during the pandemic.
There was still a big gap between the offer of services, the demand and knowledge of these initiatives. We do not have a mental health literacy and in the area of suicide prevention we know the importance of accessing the appropriate services, feeling cared for and connected with others.
With that in mind we created the mental health map (www.mapasaudemental.com.br), a website with four major areas, where we list the services offered across the country.
On the virtual map we have more than 150 initiatives that attend online from general population, health professionals to specific groups, such as bereaved people and the LGBTQIA+ population.
In the face-to-face map, from the geolocation, it is possible to see which free mental health services are closest in the area. This includes the public health system, school clinics, first responders, NGOs and others.
Information on mental health literacy, as well as a library of guides and manuals already published in the areas of socio-emotional education, mental health promotion, mourning, suicide prevention and postvention is being developed.
We still have many challenges, such as finding specialized help to young people, who are more vulnerable; people without access to technology (1 in 4 Brazilians do not have access to technology) and to train mental health professionals in handling and possible referrals in the face of serious cases of suicidal behavior that may appear in online appointments.
In a short time, the site had more than 50k accesses and the services listed noticed an increased demand from the map. These results show that connecting people who seek help with available services can be an important way to promote mental health and prevent suicide during and after social isolation.
Dr Karen Scavacini