Portugal has 2.3 million citizens who receive psychological support and one in five Portuguese suffers from a psychological health problem, revealed this Sunday the Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses (OPP), marking World Mental Health Day.
Drawing a picture of the country’s psychological state, an OPP indicated that “one in five Portuguese people suffers from a psychological health problem (23% of the population)”, noting that Portugal is the 2nd European country with the highest prevalence of health problems. psychological health and is the 5th country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the highest consumption of anxiolytics and antidepressants.
Taking advantage of the World Mental Health Day, which has been celebrated on October 10th since 1992, in support of education, awareness and defense of global mental health against social stigma, an Order presented the evolution of responses to psychological health in Portugal. In primary health care, in the past there were 250 psychologists and in the present there are 250 psychology professionals (plus a few dozen in current contracts) and the demand is increasing. “We still need another 250 psychologists,” says the Order.
In schools, there were 778 psychologists (380 with personal contracts) and now there are 1700 psychologists (900 with personal contracts) and “it is still necessary to create working conditions that have the continuity of operations and reinforcement of psychologists in contexts with specific needs, explained the OPP.
Five Measures for Psychological Health
In this context, the representative body of Portuguese psychologists put forward five measures that it considers to be priorities for psychological health in Portugal, namely in the National Health Service (SNS), in schools, at work, in justice and in social responses.
Regarding the NHS, where the demand for psychological health services and care registered an increase, “in a previous framework of very clear insufficiency, underfunding and disparities in access”, an association argued that “it is imperative to strengthen the response capacity, ensuring accessibility , contingency, quality and continuity of care”, in order to guarantee citizen access to the services of psychologists in health centers” in good time”, as well as direct referral to health centers from the psychological counseling service of the SNS24 line.
“This necessarily implies the integration of more psychologists in the NHS, namely in Primary Health Care, which has only 250 professionals. This is an urgent and essential measure to intervene and mitigate the psychological impact of the crisis, in the short and long term, as well as to prevent problems and promote the psychological health, well-being and quality of life of the Portuguese”, he pointed out .
Indicating that the school represents one of the contexts with the greatest potential to prevent future problems and promote the psychological health of children and young people, an Order proposed “the continuity and presence of more psychologists” in schools, especially to allow for the reduction of inequalities in contexts with specific need.
At work, the OPP suggested investing in well-being in the workplace as a way to improve the productivity and sustainability of associations, making the implementation of psychosocial risk prevention plans mandatory and providing companies with a greater number of psychology professionals , including them in occupational health teams.
“According to scientific evidence, preventing the causes of occupational stress and intervening in psychological health problems not only costs, but translates into a wide range of benefits for workers and employers, reducing as a result of loss of productivity at least in 30% and, therefore, resulting in savings of around one billion euros per year”, reinforced the representative body of Portuguese psychologists.
Among the five measures for psychological health in Portugal, the order made changes in the area of justice, with the promotion of social reintegration and the provision of psychological support to victims of violence, and in social responses, through the humanization and dignification of social support, “Enabling people to have permanent access to psychological health care, with emphasis on choosing in a situation of greater exclusion and vulnerability”.