Doctors must stop prescribing antidepressants to patients they could spend more time talking to, says a study highlighting the fact that yet again this year the tally for prescriptions for antianxiety and antidepressant drugs “that don’t resolve anything” is worryingly high.
The report’s bottom line is that there should be a national strategy for mental health, and that doctors should have more time to talk to patients.
Signed off by the national health council, “No more time to lose: Mental Health in Portugal, a challenge for the next decade”, stresses for example that numerous hospitals make patients wait beyond the legal limit of 30 days for a psychiatric appointment.
In some areas, the wait can be as long as seven to eight months.
In the Algarve, for example, there is only one child psychiatrist available for the entire region.
Henrique Barros, president of the national health council, told TSF radio: “Given the prevalence of mental health problems in the population, and their impact on individual, family and socioeconomic levels, Portugal urgently needs an integrated strategy” to ensure people’s mental health is safeguarded.
Portugal is described as the second country in Europe with the highest per capita proportion of mental health issues (22.9%).
Explains Barros, patients here already consume double the amount of antidepressant and antianxiety medication than countries like Holland, Italy and Slovakia.
TSF radio does not explain which country leads the way for mental health issues, but it would appear from consultation with back reports by Eurostat to be Ireland.