Launching of “Epidemiology of Mental Disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean”

Panama and Mexico launched the new publication of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), “Epidemiology of Mental Disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean” (in Spanish only).  In Panama City the event was organized at the Regional Health Training Center and the presentation was made by one of its editors, Jorge Rodríguez, PAHO/WHO Principal Adviser on Mental Health. Ricardo Goti, Director of the National Institute on Mental Health, and Miguel Cedeño, President of the Panamanian Society of Psychiatry, commented on the book. In Mexico City, the presentation took place at the “Ramón de la Fuente National Institute of Psychiatry” before an audience of mental health professionals, and it was chaired by the General Director of the Institute, María Elena Medina-Mora. 

This publication is the result of the work of a group of distinguished researchers and professionals in the field of mental health in the Americas. The information provided will serve as a basis for planning and managing services as well as for developing effective strategies and community-based interventions to improve mental health care and the quality of life of people with mental disorders.

The book addresses the history of epidemiological research in the field of mental health as well as the epidemiology of mental disorders in populations with greater vulnerability, which includes indigenous communities, children, adolescents, the elderly, and populations affected by disasters. Furthermore, specific problems including the use of alcohol and psychoactive substances, suicide, and intellectual disability are also addressed. 

One of the chapters describes the utilization of mental health services, mostly in regard to Central America, as a result of the application of the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). Another important problem discussed in the book is the treatment gap, which is the proportion of people with mental disorders who do not receive any kind of care.