The document, entitled 'A New Benchmark for Mental Health Systems – addressing the social and economic costs of mental illness', analyses how countries are developing policies and services relevant to the quality of outcomes in this area and recalls that mental illness has economic costs equivalent to more than 4.2 percent of GDP, between direct costs of treatment and indirect costs associated with employment and productivity.
Stressing that levels of mental stress have increased since the onset of the health crisis, with the prevalence of anxiety and depression almost doubling in some countries, the OECD notes in relation to Portugal that “the covid-19 pandemic meant that mental health received more media coverage, and the government website on covid-19 and mental health has been regularly consulted”.
The international organisation highlights the creation of a “free telephone line with 24-hour psychological support from 63 mental health specialists”, in a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses. Portugal is also included in the list of at least 20 OECD member countries where telephone service and online mental support service are available to the general population, such as Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, United States of America and United Kingdom.
According to the report, access in Portugal to online information or to telephone lines on mental health can be done directly without referral, similarly to what happens in countries such as Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Norway, Canada and New Zealand. The report also notes that the country has a national telephone support service, but also by region. However, and despite noting that “no OECD country has a high performance mental health system in all areas”, Portugal is, according to data quoted from Eurostat, one of the members in which a higher rate of needs is reported, with unmet mental health care for financial reasons when compared to other health needs, with a value of 31.1 percent, only behind Iceland (33.1 percent).