Training in Mental Health for Primary Health Workers

  • Carlos A. León


The number of doctors and nurses in developing countries is acutely insufficient and the number of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses grossly inadequate. About 4/5 of the world population live in areas where there are not psychiatrists. The average proportion of psychiatrists in Latin America is less than 2 per 100.000 inhabitants1, but the rate of prevalence of mental disorders in metropolitan areas has been estimated at 18% of the general population at risk2. Furthermore, several epidemiological studies demonstrate that the rates of prevalence of mental disorders in certain urban marginal and rural areas in Latin America may be higher than those-observed in developed countries3,4,5. The problem becomes even more complex because of the coexistence of high rates of mental disorders with a plethora of communicable diseases, parasitic infestations and malnutrition. Under these circumstances the task of trying to take care of the mental health problems of such communities through the exclusive use of psychiatrists or trained professionals becomes impossible and there is an obvious need for alternative solutions.


Mental Health Mental Disorder Mental Health Service Parasitic Infestation Auxiliary Nurse 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos A. León
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversidad del ValleCaliColombia

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