Consultations in the Mental Health service increased by around 30% after the pandemic in Jaén

First official meeting between the Minister of Health and the UJA rector. / ideal

Junta de Andalucía values ​​the promotion of mental health research at UJA

Enara Lopez de la Pena

Consultations in Mental Health services in Jaén are on the rise, especially among young people and adolescents, and the Board considers that “cases of depression and above all suicide are very worrying”. Minister of Health and Consumption Catalina García announced that the number of small users of Mental Health services in the state rose from 3,379 to 4,193 between 2018 and 2021, representing an increase of 24 percent. Inquiries also rose 28 percent, from 5,810 inquiries four years ago to 7,447 in 2021.

In Andalusia as a whole, there was a 16.5% increase in minor users of Mental Health services between 2018 and 2021, with 12,636 more adolescents (up from 76,593 to 89,229). In the last four years, consultations participated increased by 30.89 percent, from 200,860 to 262,915 (62,055 more).

“Especially alarming”, he cataloged data on adolescent suicides that “have worsened in recent years.” Thus, while 14 suicides under the age of 15 were recorded in Andalusia last year, we reached 300 suicides between the ages of 15-29.

This was reported by the counselor during a visit to the University of Jaén, where he underlined the impetus of mental health research conducted by the UJA, as “it offers an opportunity to detect early and automatically the risk of suffering from problems such as eating disorders, bullying , anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or addiction” in youth.

It was noted this Monday during his first visit as a consultant to this academic institution, where he met with rector Juan Gómez with people responsible for projects addressing mental health in adolescents.

Big Hug Project

Specifically, The Big Hug Project, in which the Intelligent Information Access Systems (Sinai) team led by Professor Alfonso Ureña, and by the Psychology group Dr. He referred to the Daremos and Procare initiatives developed by Luis Joaquín García. .

Funded by the Board’s Andalusia Research Plan, the main objective of Big Hug is the establishment of automated risk identification systems for the youth population in social networks (Telegram) through artificial intelligence.

The research team has created a bot that allows teens to talk about their feelings in an anonymous, friendly and non-intrusive way, “using a very familiar communication system,” and gain a better understanding of how they’re feeling.

“It provides invaluable information that the team itself will use to create parental control or self-assessment tools that help detect emotional disorders and allow for an early response that guarantees healthy emotional development among our young people,” he said.

emotional strength

Daremos and Procare, on the other hand, seek to identify at-risk youth early and provide psychological strategies to empower them emotionally, drawing particular attention to vulnerable populations and rural areas, for example based on language use. use of metaphors. “I find this proposal very interesting, promoting emotional health and well-being in adolescents between the ages of twelve and 18,” García said.

Along the same lines, Gómez drew attention to the importance of psychological disorders, especially in the adolescent population. “It’s an issue of great interest to health authorities, and we have several research groups at UJA that are addressing this issue from different approaches.”

The Rector thanked the President of Health and Families for his interest in this problem and expressed his belief that “they will evaluate the scientific results obtained from the projects well”.

more questions

The strong commitment of the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs to Andalusia’s Comprehensive Mental Health Plan (Pisma) stands out as a method to combat these situations.

Therefore, he recalled that the community has 26 Mental Health Clinical Management Units with different care devices: Community Mental Health Units and Child and Juvenile, of which there are six in Jaén; Rehabilitation and Hospitalization Units and day hospitals and treatment communities. In total, 156 centers where about 2,800 professionals provide healthcare.

“We focus on the special training of our family doctors and all Primary Care professionals, as well as liaison nurses, because they are key in detecting mental illness and especially in detecting suicide risk,” she said.

Likewise, García states that the specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry was promoted “to stop this silent epidemic”; Protocols for the prevention and early detection of child and adolescent mental health problems are strengthened and new health professionals are recruited to strengthen Child and Adolescent Mental Health Units.

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