The document, titled ‘A New Standard for Mental Health Systems – Addressing the Social and Economic Costs of Mental Illness’, analyzes how countries develop policies and services relevant to quality outcomes in this area and notes that mental illness has economic costs equivalent to more than 4.2% of Gross Domestic Product, between the direct costs of treatment and the indirect costs associated with employment and productivity.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stressed that levels of psychological stress have increased since the beginning of the health crisis, with the prevalence of anxiety and depression nearly doubling in some countries, and the OECD notes in relation to Portugal that “the Covid-19 epidemic means that mental health has received more means media coverage, and the government website on covid-19 and mental health was consulted regularly.”
The international organization highlights the creation of a “toll-free phone line with 24-hour psychological support from 63 mental health professionals”, in partnership between the Ministry of Health, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Ordem dos Psicólogos Portuguese.
Portugal is also included in the list of no less than 20 OECD member countries where phone service and online mental support service are available to the general population, such as Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, USA and UK.
According to the report, in Portugal information can be accessed online or directly to mental health phone lines without a referral, similar to what is happening in countries such as Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Norway, Canada and New Zealand. The report also notes that the country has a national telephone support service, but also by regions.
However, despite noting that “no OECD country has a high-performing mental health system across the board”, Portugal, according to data cited by Eurostat, is one of the members with a reported higher rate of needs . Unmet mental health care for financial reasons when compared to other health needs, with a value of 31.1%, is only behind Iceland (33.1%).
At the same time, among the services that could be accessed without referral, “all countries except Portugal indicated that some direct self-referral was possible” for mental health support services.
For emergency psychological assessment, Portugal ranks alongside Austria, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom in requiring a certified psychiatrist for this job, while France and some federal states in Germany consider any physician eligible for an emergency. Psychological evaluation.
The OECD analysis also covered students with mental health issues and concluded that there are 35% more chances of repeating the school year, although this reality does not extend to all countries, including Portugal, Slovenia, Poland and Colombia, where this group of students less likely.