Guatemala: Mental Health Day Celebration


On October 19, Guatemala held a workshop on “Promoting Welfare: Mental Health and Chronic Physical Illnesses” to celebrate Mental Health Day 2010. The activity was organized by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, coordinated by the National Mental Health Program, with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO-WHO), ECAP (Community Studies and Psychosocial Action Team), the Trauma and Global Health Program of the Douglas Institute and McGill University, Canada, and the Biomedical, Psychosocial and Health Sciences research centers at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala.

The launching of the Ministerial Agreement 845-2010 declaring the second week of October each year as Mental Health Week was part of this activity. The Ministry of Health, through the National Mental Health Program, in coordination with other institutions that carry out actions to promote mental health, will implement actions designed to promote and strengthen the mental health of the Guatemalan population, with a focus on ethnicity and gender.

The event was chaired by the Minister of Public Health, Ludwig Ovalle, and other local authorities, among whom were the Coordinator of the National Mental Health Program, Rigoberto Rivera and the Representative of PAHO / WHO Guatemala, Pier Paolo Balladelli. During his speech, Dr. Balladelli noted: "The situation of poverty and inequity in all its manifestations, gender violence, human rights abuse, such as discrimination against indigenous populations, together with the effects of natural disasters that have plagued the country in recent months, may determine serious mental health consequences when they are not treated promptly. The promotion of opportunities for dialogue and peaceful coexistence in families and society, and the inclusion of mental health in primary health care are essential elements of the country's response to its people’s mental problems."