Journal article Open Access

Mental health needs and access to mental health services in Portugal: Some optimism, some pessimism

Pinto-Coelho, Ana

This essay assesses the relationship between the need for and use of mental health services in Portugal. It particularly explores the complex issues that beset mental health services in the country, along with the factors that potentially contribute to mental health problems. Three discrete predictive factors emerged: (i) sociodemograhphic; (ii) intercultural contact; and, (iii) psychosocial adjustment. As earlier studies have revealed, these were linked to youth’s mental health. Training professionals in a shared care model is theoretically not linked with consistent improvements in the recognition or management of mental health services in Portugal. A mental health service system based on the recovery concept incorporates the services of a community support system organised around the rehabilitation model's description of the impact of severe mental illness. Despite the instabilities the landscape of mental health service in Portugal may have contributed to the lack of effects, wider changes in the mental health services is necessary to improve training and to encourage changes in behaviour, and more specific proved models. Lastly, routine screening for mental health need and increasing access to mental health professionals for further evaluation and treatment should be a priority for Portuguese in their initial contact with the welfare system.

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