Mental health providers’ experiences of the challenges they face working in the public mental health system in Chile

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With mental health disorders on a rise especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services have been constantly challenged. This has created more pressure on mental health systems, increasing significantly the weight carried by mental healthcare providers (MINSAL, 2011). In Chile alone, there has been a 40% increase of cases of depression and 37% increases of cases of anxiety since the COVID-19 pandemic (Ceils-Morales & Nazar, 2022). In addition to the above, less than 40% of people who have a mental health diagnosis receive care in mental health care services or primary health care (Vicente, Saldivia & Pihán, 2016). There is also a significant lack of resources for Mental Health in Chile, which generates an even greater burden for the system and for those who work in it. In this context, there are few studies that address how these challenges affect Mental Health professionals in Chile. While numerous studies in this area have used a quantitative methodology, very few have applied qualitative methodologies to gather subjective descriptions of the experiences of mental healthcare providers. Thus, this methodology can provide significant data to explore in depth the factors that influence healthcare workers experiences which would be otherwise overlooked in quantitative methodologies. To achieve this, 15 mental health professionals which included psychiatrists and psychologists, were interviewed through semi-structured interviews. The results point to various challenges faced by these professionals that tend to promote negative experiences. However, despite being less frequent, some aspects are also presented that would lead to more positive experiences and that these have the possibility of mitigating the effects that more negative experiences have on therapists. The conclusions point to the effects that negative experiences have on therapists and how they affect the quality of the treatment provided in mental health care. The role of positive experiences are also discussed.
Tesis (Master of Clinical Psychology)--Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2022.