The Spanish government is preparing to allocate substantial funds to enhance mental health support services and bolster primary care centres. The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, recently announced two funding packages to be distributed among the regions. The first package includes 38.9 million euros designated for mental health services, while the second package involves 579.1 million euros allocated for primary care infrastructure and the acquisition of new clinical equipment for healthcare centres.
These funding pledges were unveiled during Prime Minister Sánchez's campaign trail in Valencia ahead of the upcoming local and regional elections. In Spain, healthcare policy is primarily delegated to regional governments, so the national government's commitment aims to reinforce healthcare programs at the regional level.
During the announcement of the funding packages, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez emphasised the importance of addressing mental health and destigmatising it. He recalled a meeting at Moncloa where he convened associations and groups working in the field of mental health, and he drew a significant lesson from that gathering. Sánchez stated, "We have to make mental health visible, we have to talk about it, and it is crucial that we allocate economic resources to it. Above all, we must not stigmatise it." He highlighted that experiencing depression or encountering psychological difficulties at some point in life is not uncommon, but it is possible to overcome these challenges and find value in living.
The 38.9 million euro funding, to be shared among the regions, will support various aspects of mental health, including the financing of community mental health teams for both adults and young individuals. The funding will also aid in prevention and early detection efforts, including improvements to the 024 suicide helpline that was launched last year.
Spain has the highest consumption rate of anti-anxiety medication worldwide and ranks as the largest consumer of psychiatric or psychotropic medication in the European Union. This category includes antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilisers.
Among the regions, Andalusia, the most populous region, will receive 7 million euros, followed by Catalonia with 6.5 million euros, Madrid with 5.6 million euros, and the Valencian Community with 4.3 million euros.
This new funding initiative follows the implementation of a national Mental Health Plan last year, which budgeted 100 million euros annually for 2022, 2023, and 2024. The government had already provided 24 million euros to the autonomous communities last year.
The objective of this funding is to enhance service accessibility, strengthen existing mental health care, and establish new units in areas currently lacking them. Spain's Minister of Health, José Miñones, expressed the aim of establishing a "comprehensive mental health care system" throughout the country.
In recent years, mental health issues have become increasingly prevalent in Spain, particularly among children and young people. Experts attribute this trend to factors such as the lockdown period during the Covid-19 pandemic, which occurred during crucial developmental years, as well as the high rates of social media and technology usage among children.
Notably, suicidal thoughts have emerged as the primary cause for distress calls from children under 18 in Spain, with a thirty-fivefold increase over the past decade. Self-harm, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders have also seen a significant rise, with a 291 percent increase.
Additionally, 579.1 million euros will be shared among the autonomous communities to improve infrastructure and acquire equipment for primary health centres. Minister Miñones characterised this funding as the "largest investment in primary care in history" and stressed that it would originate from the national budget rather than European funds. This demonstrates the Spanish government's commitment to healthcare.
The funds will be utilised as part of the Primary Care Infrastructure Improvement Plan (Minap), which seeks to renovate facilities and acquire equipment for all 13,000 health centres and clinics across the country. The objective is to enhance the level of care in primary healthcare and bring diagnostic, therapeutic, and rehabilitation services closer to the population. This initiative aims to ensure equality for all Spaniards, especially in rural and less populated areas.