According to the Balearic Mental Health Office (OSMIB), around 185,000 people in the Balearics have been diagnosed with some type of mental health disorder and one in four will suffer some form of psychological disorder during their lives.
Oriol Lafau, regional coordinator for mental health, says that the numbers are the tip of the iceberg. "Mental illness continues to be a stigma in our society. Imagine the number of cases that are never diagnosed." He says that during the financial crisis, cases related to mental health increased by fifteen per cent. "The pandemic and the future recession will exacerbate cases of stress, sleep disorder, depression and anxiety as well as addictions and suicidal ideas."
The office emphasises the most vulnerable groups because of the health crisis. The elderly are one. They spent much of the lockdown in solitude and are even now reluctant to go out and lead a normal life. Quim García de Castrillón of the OSMIB, says that the less they go out, "the more faculties they lose, and ageing accelerates".
Another group comprises people at risk of social exclusion. When 400 or so homeless people were housed during the lockdown, the majority were found to have a mental illness and addictions of some kind; eighty had serious disorders. Lafau explains that a team of psychologists has now been formed to work exclusively with the most vulnerable people in Majorca.
With the young, OSMIB is warning of a possible increase in drug use because of a lack of leisure alternatives and a reduction in personal satisfaction as a result of the restrictions. Nicole Haber, head of the Suicide Observatory, points to work being done in schools to detect and act upon cases of mental health problems. The Suicide Care and Prevention Units at hospitals have been expanded, and OSMIB has added nine more members of staff.