Primary care, key in the fight for mental health

The pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of a large part of the population. Sometimes, the sick patient, or with a picture of anxiety or depression, does not know where to turn for someone to help him get out of the loop in which he is immersed. Most decide to go to the nearest primary care center, which is known as the gateway to the health system.

Given the increase in cases and pathologies, the Department of Health decided, a year ago, to strengthen mental health in outpatient clinics, equipping them with more staff. A year later, the balance is positive, although no one is unaware that the measures taken by the Generalitat are not enough to mitigate the situation.

When the patient arrives at the CAP, he meets the general practitioner. This should make a first diagnosis. As a general rule, if it is an emotional discomfort, the same family doctor can prescribe the most convenient. If the professional sees signs that the ailment may turn into a pathology, it is the physician who must consult case by case with the psychologist or psychiatrist of the Institut Pere Mata –in the case of Tarragona–, who visits the CAP in question once or twice times per week. This is what is called consulting. The mental health professional decides the future of the patient without having seen it before.

If it is a mild pathology, the same psychologist or psychiatrist from the primary care center can visit the patient. If the pathology is moderate or severe, the patient will be referred to a mental health center for adults (CSMA) or child-juvenile (CSMIJ), which the Institut Pere Mata has spread throughout Tarragona.

prevent and promote

But without a doubt, the commitment of the Department of Health has been to provide the primary care teams with the figure of the referents of emotional well-being. During the last year, a total of 352 references have been incorporated in Catalonia. "Our function is to carry out a group and community intervention, with the aim of improving the prevention and promotion of emotional well-being, minimizing or avoiding the appearance of mental pathologies," explains Maria Montserrat, a reference point for emotional well-being and coordinator of psychologists at the Xarxa Holy button.

The key to success is that the clinic manages to detect psychosocial factors in the population, in order to provide tools that help manage discomfort. "That is why in these cases we opt for social prescription," explains Montserrat. It refers, for example, to combating a duel or the feeling of loneliness through socialization, moving away from medicalization.

During the first year of deployment of this measure, a total of 25,000 people have participated in community and group actions of the referents of emotional well-being. However, both professionals and users agree that it is necessary to further strengthen mental health in primary care.

The Department of Health decided a year ago to reinforce mental health in the CAP

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