PAHO/WHO Director Celebrates International Mental Health Day in Panama


Panama, October 7, 2011 (PAHO/WHO, Panama) - In the context of the International Mental Health Day, celebrated on October 10, PAHO/WHO Director, Mirta Roses Periago, presided over the event organized by Panama´s health authorities, headed by the Minister of Health, Franklin Vergara, where various issues related to the situation of mental health in the country were addressed.

"Panama is a model country in the field of mental health.” PAHO/WHO Director highlighted Panama´s advances in mental health and how they share their expertise with other Central American countries. “As a result of the experiences developed, professionals from Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Haiti have come to Panama to receive training" she said.

World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness about mental health pnullroblems. This year’s theme "The great push: investing in mental health" seeks to reflect on the need to increase investment in mental health and direct available resources towards more effective and humane services.

Dr. Roses referred to the implementation of WHO’s mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP): "Panama is one of the few countries to start implementing this global initiative." The program provides information on how to work on eight priority conditions: depression, psychosis, epilepsy, suicidal behavior, alcohol use disorders, drug use disorders, dementia, and developmental and behavioral disorders in childhood and adolescence. Primary care professionals will be trained in addressing these issues under the supervision of specialized care, said the Director.

Also present at the event were: Yadira Boyd, Director of the  National Institute of Mental Health (INSAM); Marcel Penna, Coordinator of the National Mental Health Program of the Ministry of Health (MINSA); Amaralis Amador, Coordinator of the National Mental Health Program of the Social Security Fund (Caja del Seguro Social- CSS); and Plinio Cerrud, President of the National Association of relatives and friends of people with mental illness (ANFAPEM).

About 130 mental health professionals from various institutions, the academia and the civil society participated in the commemoration of World Mental Health Day.