Talking is the first step to saving lives. With this motto, the Ministry of Health launched this Monday (13) initiatives and strategies to expand actions and care for the mental health of Brazilians through the Unified Health System (SUS). Among them are the Life Line (196), teleconsultations to deal with the impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Care Lines to organize the care of patients with anxiety and depression. In all, the Federal Government invests more than R$ 45 million.
The Life Line, which will serve at number 196, will welcome people and provide guidance, seeking to prevent suicide and self-mutilation. The pilot project will start in the Federal District, through a multichannel service system. The service will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the week. The Teleconsultation Project (telepsychiatry and teletherapy) will support people who are dealing with the impacts on mental health caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Made in partnership with the Paulista Association for the Development of Medicine (SPDM), the objective is to expand care for people with mild mental disorders, through telemedicine resources. 12,000 teleconsultations of psychologists and 6,000 teleconsultations of psychiatrists will be made available online monthly. The services will be scheduled by the teams of the Basic Health Units (UBS).
During the launch of the strategies, the substitute Minister of Health, Arnaldo Medeiros, highlighted that the Federal Government’s focus is on the integral health of the population, in addition to specific diseases. “We are going to offer every Brazilian citizen the possibility of a specialized service. This Ministry publicly commits to giving attention to the pain of the soul. Mental health is reflected in our relationships, in our daily lives”, said Medeiros.
The secretary of Primary Health Care, Raphael Câmara, added that the focus on investment in mental health has grown even more in the face of the pandemic. “We made an extraordinary credit of more than BRL 100 million, observing the serious psychological problems arising from the pandemic. In addition, the Return Home Program has increased to R$500 per person. It’s an important program that gives more dignity to patients who come out of hospital and need help getting back to life.”
The consultations will be carried out through a virtual platform that will provide the electronic medical record for the registration of the consultations and a program for the analysis of the data produced. The environment will be integrated with a scheduling center for scheduling appointments and there will be a chat for self-management of care and for digital monitoring of the user’s mental health. The teams will receive training and logins to access the portal, according to the criteria defined by the Municipal and State Health Departments.
The Ministry of Health also launched the National Strategy for Strengthening Care for Anxiety and Depression (Mood Disorders) post-pandemic. It will work from the transfer of federal resources to the Multiprofessional Specialized Mental Health Care Teams (EMAESM/AMENT) to assist children and adolescents with anxiety and depression disorders. These teams may be linked to pre-existing outpatient clinics, polyclinics, or hospital units, as well as new outpatient units.
Finally, there are the lines of care for the person with depression and the person with anxiety. The idea is to guide health services in order to focus care on the patient and their needs, demonstrate care flows with safe therapeutic plans and establish the ideal “care path” for people at different levels of care in the SUS.
depression and anxiety
Faced with the growing demand for mental health related to depression and anxiety among children and young people, especially after the pandemic, which caused a sudden change in routine and in people’s lives, the perception of the risk of contamination, fear of contaminating the family and colleagues of work, significant reduction of jobs and unemployment, and isolation/distance in social life were some situations found to trigger depression, anxiety and other psychological damage in children and young people.
Still throughout the state of Public Health Emergency of National Concern (ESPIN), a recent review of 29 surveys concluded that symptoms of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents doubled after the start of the pandemic. Before the health crisis, surveys suggested that depressive symptoms were common to 12.9% of this group. During the coronavirus crisis, this rate grew to 25.2%. Anxious signals, in turn, increased from 11.6% to 20.5%, and the index maintains bullish trends.
Ministry of Health