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Salud Pública de México

Print version ISSN 0036-3634

Abstract

SALGADO-DE SNYDER, V Nelly; DIAZ-PEREZ, Ma de Jesús  and  GONZALEZ-VAZQUEZ, Tonatiuh. A model for integrating mental healthcare resources in the rural population of Mexico. Salud pública Méx [online]. 2003, vol.45, n.1, pp. 19-26. ISSN 0036-3634.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0036-36342003000100003.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this project was to identify behaviors of health service utilization to solve mental health-related problems among rural inhabitants of Mexico. A model of pathways to mental health services was built. Based on this model, an integration- intervention model is proposed to help improve access to mental health services and their quality. MATERIAL AND METHODS: In 1997, in-depth interviews were conducted among 21 adults (9 men and 12 women) and seven healthcare providers, in a rural community in Jalisco, Mexico. Women's age ranged from 23 to 44 years; ten were married and two single. Men were between 30 and 74 years old; eight were married and one was a widower. Healthcare providers in the same community were: a priest, a general physician, a pharmacy clerk, two nurses, and two traditional healers. RESULTS: The pathways models suggest that the first attempt a person does to solve a symptom is self-care. When such strategies are not sufficient to relief the symptom, the person turns to the members of his/her social network for help, who in addition to providing information about remedies, offer their emotional and instrumental support. If after consulting the social network, the symptom is not relieved, the individual seeks help from other external resources, such as the members of the ethno-medical local system. Inhabitants of rural communities tend to seek help from physicians, only when the symptom persists and the suffering associated with it seems to be out of the individual's control, or if members of the social network or the ethno-medical local system refer the patient to the physician. Seeking help from a specialist in mental health (psychiatrist or psychologist) is quite improbable among the rural inhabitants of Mexico, mostly due to difficulties in accessing these services, such as geographical location, distance, transportation, cost, and cultural distance between the health providers and the patient. CONCLUSIONS: In order to conduct successful intervention programs that are culturally sensitive for rural inhabitants, it is necessary first, to have detailed information derived from research and second, the active participation of all human and institutional resources, from professionals and truly multi-disciplinary researchers, to educators, social, religious, political leaders, and members of the communities and local institutions. The proposed model of integration of personal and community resources for healthcare requires establishing programs that sensitize, inform, and train community members, as well as members the ethno-medical system and the formal heath system.

Keywords : rural population; health care; mental health; social support networks; health services; pathways; Mexico.

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