A new report on understanding mental health in the country

A mural in downtown Bogota honoring the student Sergio Urrego, who committed suicide after being a victim of homophobia at the Castillo Campestre Gymnasium, an act attended by his mother, Alba Reyes.

Photo: Mauricio Alvarado – Mauricio Alvarado Lozada

In 2019, the Sergio Urrego Foundation founded “Lifebelt”platform the only one in the country dedicated to the prevention of child and adolescent suicides. Since then, a team composed of four psychologists, a coordinator, an analyst, 12 volunteers and Alba Lucia Reyes, director of the foundation, has guided and cared for 9,097 young people on the problems of mental health.

Today in University of the Andespresented the report which collects all the information collected in the last year through the line, such as socio-demographic characteristics Y psychological, the contrast of official sources and studies related to the lines of action, the description of concepts such as anxiety Y depression, gender based violence (GBV), as well as some relevant data on matters of mental health.

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Is the same [Fundación] which invites us to lose our fear of talking about it as a family, to listen more to children and adolescents, to sharpen our senses to detect the warning signs and to create a united front for suicide prevention in Colombia,” he wrote. Elber Gutierrez Roa at the beginning of the document.

The Sergio Urrego Foundation is a non-profit non-governmental organization founded on August 23, 2015 by Alba Lucia Reyes following the suicide of her son Sergio Urrego after being a victim of discrimination based on his sexual orientation. Its lines of action are the prevention of discrimination against children and young people in educational and organizational environments and the prevention of suicides motivated by discrimination.

A line that saves lives

“Lifeguard Line” is a free tool that helps any child or young person who needs emotional and psychological support through a mobile phone number 3117668666 and in social networks. Also, on This line there is differential focus because it recognizes that the most common cause of contact between the diverse population in terms of gender and sexual orientation is discrimination.

“Strictly speaking, the line provides emotional support and then refers cases to other psychosocial care centres. It has its own retention barometer and even cares about an issue that is sometimes forgotten: caregiver care. Because it is also necessary to protect those present on the line against the possible effects of so much emotional discharge,” the document explains.

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The care team It consists of psychological professionals with experience in crisis care who provide emotional support in situations of risk or discrimination, suicidal behavior in an emergency context and isolation, through calls, email or chat on the Foundation’s social networks.

Some data from last year

Through digital means, they attended 1,097 (36%) cases in Facebook, 896 (29.4%) people were contacted by mail and 643 (21.1%) by phone. Among the less common channels it was found Instagram with 398 contacts (13.0%) and the website with 9 people (0.29%).

For the most part, they dealt with cases related to mental health problems or emotional discomfort such as: grief, disconnection, social skills, communication, stress, sadness, anger and discomfort. Suicidal ideation and self-injurious behavior are the second most common, followed by discrimination, gender-based and family violence, and anxiety and depression.

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For example, “the global pandemic of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) affected people’s mental health, as confinement and multiple cases of contagion in the close social environment generated a series of traumatic events,” the report mentioned.

According to the report, mental health issues that can be demonstrated in interpersonal relationships are sometimes overlooked, change in diet Y hours of sleepsex life along with their sexuality.

“In most cases, people who come online are looking for a place to be heard and receive psychological support, so it is easy for them to express their problems; however, in some cases, such communication is difficult for users due to their personality traits or social-emotional skills,” the document says.

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In the referral process carried out during this period, they identified that “the low cost subjects had an interaction of 163 referrals (5.36%), followed by 122 referrals to affiliates (4.0%), 22 people ( 0.79%) who decided to start psychotherapy through their EPS and 6 people (0.19%) who had to activate an emergency route due to the level of risk to their privacy”.

The report’s recommendation is a joint efforts of citizens and the various lines of psychological support to reduce myths and fears about mental health, as well as promote good techniques and tools for managing emotions.

This information, explained in the document, can serve as a reference for community-based organizations, public opinion and the public interested in the topic of suicide prevention and discrimination.

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