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Mental Health

Looking after mental health

Mental problems, like depression and schizophrenia, can prevent people from working and break up families, as well as being related to suicide and even murder. Over the last few decades Brazil has chosen to substitute psychiatric hospitals for Psychosocial Support Centers (Caps), which were devised to handle complex mental disturbances in the community with a minimum of people being admitted to hospital. This is an innovative strategy but one that was introduced in timid fashion. In 2006 there were 848 Caps, one for every 200,000 inhabitants, and 27 psychiatric beds per 100,000 people, far fewer than necessary, according to a diagnosis led by Mário Mateus, from the Federal University of São Paulo. The total number of psychiatrists and psychologists is also small: 6,000 and 18,000, respectively. Human services and resources are concentrated in the most affluent areas of the country (International Journal of Mental Health Systems).