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Mental health care before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in public healthcare centers of a Chilean municipality.

Medwave 2023 March 23
INTRODUCTION: Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people's mental health care. This study aims to describe mental health care in the first semester of the COVID-19 pandemic of the year 2020 compared to the first semester of the year 2019 in the public health establishments of the commune of Chillán, Chile.

METHODS: A descriptive ecological study. The treated cases were analyzed in aggregate, considering the pandemic, amount of admissions, the reason for consultation, sex, and age for the years 2019 and 2020. Prevalence, percentages, and statistical analysis were evaluated using non-parametric tests.

RESULTS: The prevalence of cases due to admissions to the mental health program in primary health care remained similar between the first semester of 2019 and the first semester of 2020. Most mental health cases concentrate on mood (affective) and anxiety disorders. Statistically significant differences were observed between 2019 and 2020 in the number of mental health admissions for mental and behavioral disorders due to psychotropic substances, harmful use disorders, drug dependence, and personality disorders.

CONCLUSIONS: It is a priority for Chile to increase coverage in primary mental health care. The data provided in this study show at an exploratory level that the initial situation of the pandemic could have affected access to timely care for the most vulnerable people with mental disorders.

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