The infinite cost of not investing in mental health

In the past 25 years, mental health care in Spain has experienced an unprecedented improvement. Since those grim psychiatric hospitals to health units, day centers or existing rehabilitation programs, there has been a real paradigm shift that goes from the intention of isolating the patient in order to include the person. There are still gaps, intolerable and almost total neglect of some groups. But we must recognize, and from associations of people with mental illness and family we do, we have benefited from improvements that just a couple of decades were unthinkable.

Illustration of The World

However, these same associations observed with great concern how the current budget cuts could seriously affect mental health care in our country. Not only because it reduces the number of services, but savings because this attempt will lead to a paradigm shift focusing only in emergencies and which sometimes neglected aspects considered "secondary", but which are indispensable, such as the prevention , home care or social integration.

The risk of this happening is real and we are already suffering in some regions. However, this option has drawbacks. On the one hand, the services of mental health care, social and health should not only continue, but to improve and extend to all who need it, because they involve a fundamental right. But also the continuing care model within the community is more economical in the short, medium and long term which is simply to "solve the crisis."

Every dollar spent on prevention of mental disorders prevent a far greater expense in the future. The opportunity for early and accurate diagnosis allows the person will soon be facing their disease, avoiding the significant deterioration that occurs when a disease develops such unaddressed. The earlier treatment starts, the lower-cost personal and economic, arising from the onset of the disorder and will be faster and more effective recovery.
Increasing autonomy

Different programs, endorsed by the World Health Organization have shown that by ensuring continuity of care for people with mental illness in their community, significantly reduces the number of hospital admissions, making it the most expensive part of any treatment . In short, this system leads to the person enjoys increasingly greater autonomy and requires less service, from being a citizen and served an active citizen.

Therefore, if the government want to save on mental health care, the first thing to avoid is the revolving door syndrome, in which often the person with mental illness, just step on the road after a hospital stay, leave receiving any type of health monitoring and social support. This prevents the improvement in the care of the disorder and that before long this person has to re-enter through the door of a hospital. Expenditure and above all the personal suffering that this causes.

It is a fundamental issue, of course. But in a time like this we must also choose the solutions that present more effectively at lower costs. In this sense, all actions should be directed to people with mental health problems involved in making treatment decisions and that it try to promote their autonomy to the greatest extent possible.

To this end, Spain did not need to think more laws or agreements, simply complete the implementation of those already approved. Mental Health Strategy of the NHS, a document agreed by all the autonomous communities, is an excellent guide for all actions in this area. Personal Autonomy Act, if properly developed, is the perfect lever to allow the group of people with disabilities result from mental illness move from "getting attention" to "enjoy integration."

Social rights should not dance to budget cuts. But in any case, governments can not afford the increased spending that occurs when mental health care is intermittent and therefore insufficient. So, for the good of all, people with mental illness and their families will never accept the infinite human cost that cause lack of attention to these disorders, nor give up to be an active, and productive society.