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Running Head: MEXICO VS.


Mexico Vs. Ireland: Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Illness

Michael Cervantes

Loras College

Mental Health throughout the world is a growing issue. In some countries, being

diagnosed with a mental illness comes with serious stigmas and labels. In the United States, we

see this labeling throughout our everyday lives. Some of this labeling comes from the way we

make snap judgements. We are quick to judge and individual that is different from the way that

our society is, and this makes the line that separates “us from them”. Going deeper into other

countries, there is some aspects that have shocked me, being that I had not known that the stigma

of being diagnosed with a mental illness is worse is other countries. From the horrible living

conditions in mental health facilities to treatment.

Diagnosis in Mexico and Ireland

In Mexico and Ireland, mental disorders are diagnosed using the DSM IV criteria. One

mental illness that is diagnosed in Mexico through the DSM IV criteria is schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is diagnosed if there are disturbances that has lasted at least six months and the

individual must also have one month of active phase symptoms as well (American Psychiatric

Association, 2000). These other symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized

speech grossly disorganized behavior and or negative symptoms. The individual must have two

or more of these active phase symptoms. Schizophrenia is diagnosed to someone who has

disrupted beliefs and experiences, what they determine as “disrupted beliefs” is loss touch with

reality, hallucinations or delusions, and unfounded beliefs (Mental Health Ireland, 2017). But

looking at the big picture, DSM IV has a clear definition on what is a mental disorder and what is

a physical disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Treatment in Mexico

Treatment in differs depending on what statistics you are analyzing. Mexico has many

different places for which people who have a mental illness to go to receive treatment. Some

places that are able to provide treatment are mental health outpatient and day treatment facilities.

There are also general hospitals where people in the society can be admitted to psychiatric beds.

There are also mental hospitals. When looking at a population of 100,000, there were

approximately 152.32 individuals are using these treatment options (World Health Organization,

2011). One issue with this that came up in the statistics given was that the majority of the

individuals who were using the treatment options were male individuals (World Health

Organization, 2011). When thinking about mental hospitals, I wondered if many individuals

stayed long and when looking at the statistics given, most of the population that stay in mental

hospitals stay for less than one year (World Health Organization, 2011). There is only a hand

full of the Mexican population that stays in the mental hospitals for more than one year, but

would this be a bad thing? With the larger of the population who has a mental illness only

staying in the hospitals for less than a year shows that their treatment options seem to be

working. But then you must go into the negative aspects within society.

One part of the population in Mexico that there is a decrease in treatment and diagnosis

with is the child and adolescent population. Even though mental disorders are highly prevalent

in this population in Mexico, the mental health services for this population are scarce and

inadequate (Espinola-Nadurille, et al. 2010). When a survey was given in Mexico, which was a

community based epidemiologic survey, the findings were that four out of every ten adolescents,

ranging from ages twelve to seventeen, had a mental disorder (Espinola-Nadurille, et al. 2010).

What was even more shocking is that almost half of these adolescents with mental disorders had

a sufficient severity that required professional intervention. This survey revealed the prevalence

of mental disorders in Mexico. The issue comes with the mental health care system, due to the

fact that sixty percent of the population has insurance coverage and the other forty percent of the

population does not seem to have insurance and is not able to find help (Espinola-Nadurille, et al.

2010). This supports the evidence and reveals the main issue with why the majority of

adolescents are not able to receive treatment due to the family not having the finances to pay for

treatment and thus the child does not get help.

Treatment in Ireland

According to the mental health of Ireland website, the diagnosis of schizophrenia is given

to individuals who have “severely disrupted beliefs and experiences” (Mental Health Ireland,

2017). The treatment of schizophrenia is depending on their symptoms. For the majority who

are diagnosed with schizophrenia are prescribed drugs to decrease the positive symptoms that

they are experiencing. The drugs are usually prescribed for a long period of time and do come

with unpleasant side effects, according to the Mental health of Ireland (Mental Health Ireland,

2017). But this is not the only treatment that an individual who has schizophrenia can go to

receive help. In the acute phase of the illness, it is stated in Mental Health Ireland (2017) that

individuals in this acute phase may have the need to be admitted to a hospital, with the protection

of the mental health act. This is an “act to amend the law on mental health in relation to the use

of involuntary procedures for the treatment of certain persons, and for the purpose to amend the

mental health act of 2001 (Mental Health Act, 2015).

Family implication in Mexico

The abandandos, which means the abandoned ones. This is what the individuals who live

with a mental illness are called. When exploring a post about the mental health system, I found

some troubling details. Not only are these individuals call the abandoned ones, but there are also

call “lost souls” (Jacoby, 2016). There are many patients that never receive a clinical diagnosis

of their condition. Adding to this, many also do not have families that are able to care for them.

What do they do with these patients then? With no one to care for them, these patients get

locked up inside mental hospitals and disappear from the outside world (Jacoby, 2016). This

separation from the world would worsen their symptoms and cause a negative downfall of their

mental health. The problem with this is that all mental illnesses are treatable, and not treating an

individual, just keeping them locked up is in human and a violation of the natural rights of each


Family implication in Ireland

A family explains their experience with the mental disorder and how it changed their

lives. In this, the author explains how the individual is a working professional, educated, and has

a daughter. She is also a single parent (Harris, 2015). He daughter shares with us that she could

feel the atmosphere change in the house as there was “little room for fun” as her mom would be

worrying about survival for not only herself but her whole family. When her mom could not

cope with her illness anymore, she went into the hospital. With the help of their aunts and

uncles, the family was invited to stay in their homes (Harris, 2015). You would expect that

having a place to stay would be positive, but all it did was remind them with what they could

have had. There were many times that my mother would get released from the hospital and was

able to go back home, we would go with her. The problem with this is that we were not told how

she should be taking her medications, nor did we know who to go to when we would see signs

that she was falling back into her psychosis again (Harris, 2015). Not having anyone else there

to help while the mom was out of the hospital showed why she was in and out of the hospital

constantly. Even though she had her daughter, her daughter does not know how to take care of


Mental Health Services in Mexico and Ireland

The Mexico health system has many issues, one being that the mental health services has

about 0.6 psychiatric beds for every ten thousand individuals (Berenzon, et al. 2009). Looking at

mental health human resources, it is shown that Mexico has very little resources when it comes

to mental health. The number of beds in the hospitals is very limited. There is a minimal

amount of trained psychiatrists. This shows that with the minimal amount of psychiatrists, which

explains why there are is such a minimal amount of psychiatric beds available for the population

and why there is so many individuals that are not able to receive treatment (Berenzon, et al.


Important issues

Archibold (2010) exposed the many different types of abusive conditions that arose in

Mexican mental health institutions. Going back to the video that we watched in class, I would

expect this issue of abuse in mental health facilities to diminish by this time, but it has not.

There were lobotomies being administered due to the thought that if the bad brain cells were

killed, then the patient would be cured, but the outcome made the patient worse overall. I would

not think that lobotomies still be an option. Looking into the mental health institutions, some of

the issues that were found was lobotomies which were performed without consent, children

going missing, and a lack of medical care, even though these were all medical facilities

(Archibold, 2010). The director of the disability rights international said that she has witnessed a

large amount of abuse in psychiatric facilities in many counties, but she has never seen such a

mental health issue worse than Mexico, being that Mexico lacks the protections for individuals

with mental disorders that children disappear, and even adults disappear from society (Archibold,

2010). Thinking about family issues, we went through many case studies, which revealed to us

how much of a problem that a mental illness can have on not only the individual, but also the

entire family. Going to a case in Our Most Troubling Madness, Luhrmann and Marrow explain

cases from families of Indian culture and it was clear that mental illness was worse with the

different cultures (2016). Looking at the case about Priyanka, she got diagnosed was on the

streets for five years til an organization helped her get back on her feet in the hope that her

family would accept her back. With this , she was able to see her family again and have the

possibility of being back in her home, but her family had not accepted her back. She stayed with

the organization and got a purpose due to the fact that they were able to get her to start working.

Seeing the difference between this and the case study from Ireland, the family continued to get

back together, but the mom would always go back into the hospital due to not being able to take

care of herself.

In turn, I do believe that both Ireland and Mexico have poor mental health services and

could both improve greatly in how they are able to care for the mentally ill by finding better

ways to treat them. I would have to say that Ireland does have a better mental health plan and

they had reformed the old mental health act in 2018 which shows that they are moving in the

right direction. I would have to say I did not choose Mexico because of the many issues that

arose with the frequency of adults and children disappearing, and the realization that mental

health institutions preformed lobotomies without consent which made this choice easier.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

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Archibold, R. C. (2010). Abuses found at Mexican institutions for disabled. New York Times, pp.


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