In Guatemala, mental health and substance use disorders represent 14% of the disease burden and 32% of the disability burden
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater vulnerability has been reflected in mental health problems within the indigenous population of the departments of Quiché and San Marcos. Historically, indigenous populations in the Region have suffered from higher rates of maternal and under-5 mortality, child stunting and disability, fuelled by political, social, cultural, and economic inequalities and a deep-rooted history of colonialism and structural racism.
Implementation and Achievements
The needs assessment and resource mapping in Guatemala was carried out in close collaboration with Ministry of Health officials and the support from Asociación IDEI, a national NGO which specializes in culturally adapted MHPSS training and interventions. The main objective was to review key documents such as the Terms of Reference and the Action Plan, as well as developing a capacity building plan.
Training in Guatemala was also held in collaboration with Asociación IDEI. Activities were conducted in their local languages (Maya Mam for San Marcos and Maya Ixil for Quiche) and focused on providing an intercultural training in mental health and primary first aid (PFA). A total of 38 healthcare workers, from 19 health care centers, covering 24.961 people were trained in PFA using IDEI’s culturally adapted methodology, of whom 27 were female and 11 males.
Asociación IDEI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and PAHO, developed a communication plan with the objective of raising awareness among target communities’ on mental health during COVID-19. The plan established actions for the effective dissemination of information through digital, radio and printed media in indigenous communities, with the objective of increasing awareness, decreasing stigma and ultimately increasing access to mental health services. Additionally, 50 community leaders from the territories of Nebaj and Comitancillo were trained in MHPSS.
PAHO and the Ministry of Health are committed in providing continue support to trained community members and creating solid community based MHPSS networks.