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Mental health in Colombia - Statistics & Facts

For over a half a century, Colombia has been plagued with relentless armed conflict and violence of diverse nature. The country is currently considered Latin America’s second least peaceful nation and ranks third to Syria and Congo for having the world’s most internally displaced people due to conflict. Such constant turmoil has contributed to mental health struggles across the population. Each year, thousands of people, especially young men, resort to taking their own lives. In the first months of 2021, for instance, nearly nine thousand people in Colombia attempted suicide. Although such tragedy is hard to swallow, and mental illness can be a crippling ailment, psychiatric health can be cared for and controlled through proper treatment.

COVID-19 and mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted people’s physical health, but it also affected their mental wellbeing. Fear, worry, and stress were normal feelings during 2020, as a response to the uncertainty and threatening situation brought by the spread of the virus. In Colombia, for instance, nearly four out of 10 survey respondents expressed having feelings of worry and nervousness that year. These sentiments were more present in cities such as Santa Marta, Pasto, and Monteria, where no less than 60 percent of interviewees reported feeling them. As of May 2021, Colombia ranked third, after Brazil and Argentina, in number of COVID-19 cases in Latin Ameria.

More heads, less beds

For some patients, part of getting help for mental struggles can involve inpatient hospitalization. This has been the case for an increasing number of patients in Colombia for about a decade, where the number of such visits more than doubled between 2016 and 2018. Despite the rise of inpatient stays, the number of beds for mental intensive care as well as psychiatric care beds have actually decreased in recent years. This therefore demonstrates the challenges mental health can have on Colombia’s population as well as on its health system.


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