EESC report: 48.9% of Moroccans suffer from mental disorders

Every year, October 10 is a day dedicated to mental health. If health is considered to be the world’s most precious asset, health of mind takes a more important part. In Morocco, 48.9% of the population, aged 15 and over, present or have presented symptoms of mental disorders, according to a national survey conducted by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE). The study in question aims to identify the main problems and dysfunctions related to mental health, attributing part of it to suicide and the lack of prevention strategies.

However, the same study states that our country has only 2431 beds for patients affected by these diseases. In addition, there are only 454 psychiatrists in Morocco. The shortage of human resources can be clearly seen, indicating a lack of investment in the sector. As a proof, only 2% of the national health budgets are dedicated to mental health, according to data put forward by the WHO in 2021.

In this regard, the EESC study indicates that the issue of mental health is approached in a superficial, even “sectoral” manner, concealing the major role of the socio-cultural determinants of health. “These determinants relate to family and social violence, discrimination against women, working conditions in the workplace, means of protection for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as the persistence of harmful social norms and stigmatization of mental illness,” the same source explains.

Moreover, the sector is facing several shortcomings related to the legal aspect. People suffering from mental disorders are confronted with several difficulties, in case of judicial internment in psychiatric hospitals, whether it is for penal or preventive reasons. The EESC has drawn up several recommendations to deal with these difficulties and to remedy the dysfunctions observed. First of all, it recommended improving access to mental health and psychiatric care and developing treatment while taking into account the specific needs of patients, their socio-economic condition, their environment and their vulnerabilities.

In legal matters, the Council recommended to review the draft law 71-13 on the fight against mental disorders and the protection of the rights of people suffering from these disorders. It called, thus, for the development of public policies and programs aimed at raising awareness of mental health and conducting studies in the same line. The Council takes into consideration the health status of people affected by these mental disorders, their needs, recommending the strengthening of legal and judicial guarantees of this category, through the amendment of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. He called for the development of the profession of psychologist and the definition of its legal and fiscal status.

Mental health disorders open the way to several diseases, namely depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and lead in many cases to suicide. Today, suicide kills more people in the world than wars, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). Mental illness in Morocco is still considered a stigma.

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