As the largest country in Latin America, the Federative Republic of Brazil is renowned for its significant cultural influence, having contributed to the establishment of the intergovernmental alliance BRICS and the United Nations.
Brazil is also well-known for its sizable impact on climate change and health issues on that corner of the Latin American continent. The Unified Health System, or “Sistema nico de Sade,” has significantly improved the quality of life of the region’s inhabitants by providing healthcare to the majority.
In Brazil, health research is thriving. However, a lack of emphasis on the mental health of its citizens by the media and government officials has become an issue worth addressing.
The following are four facts about Brazil’s mental health culture that you should be aware of.
- Existing Stigma Is Still Primitive: In the largest country in Latin America, many people continue to view mental health as taboo. The necessity to seek medical care for physical health issues is significantly greater than that for mental health issues. Although there has been a significant increase in the education and employment of mental health professionals in Brazil, the practice is still stigmatized, according to a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. In that study, 779 psychiatrists were administered a questionnaire, and collectively, they determined that psychotic disorders were the most stigmatizing conditions, with affective disorders and attention-deficits also having a high prevalence.
- High Poverty Increases Mental Health Risks: As in all other Latin American countries, Brazilians with low socioeconomic status are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, when living in a country with high levels of poverty. The risks to mental health posed by poverty are well-established in the literature and corroborate what Brazilian mental health professionals have observed in the general population.
- Many Children Still Face Significant Mental Health Risks: The threat of mental health risks stemming from low socioeconomic status is only a fraction of the problem Brazilians face. Among young children and adolescents, the risk of mental illness can be exacerbated by food insecurity, inadequate education, and the failure of federally elected officials to take systemwide action. One study estimated that as many as 12 percent of Brazilian children and adolescents suffer from mental illness, with suboptimal community and mental health services accessible to those affected.
- A Lack of Educational Fulfillment: In Brazil, limited access to education is a widespread problem among children and adolescents. It has been demonstrated that insufficient educational attainment is associated with increased rates of depressive and anxiety disorders. Further research is warranted into the effects of inadequate educational attainment and mental illness among Latin American populations.