Sanchez announces 38.5 million euros for mental healthcare

by Lorraine Williamson
government invests in mental health

While in Valladolid on Sunday, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced €38.5 million will be made available for mental health. It is expected that the Council of Ministers will approve the transfer of these funds to the autonomous communities on Tuesday. Of the total amount, €14.5 million will be used to improve the equipment of health centres.  

In the run-up to the 28 May elections, Spanish prime minister – and president of the PSOE- Pedro Sánchez is making daily announcements; the most tangible example of the strategy to justify the policies of socialist governments since the pandemic. In doing so, he is arming himself against the anti-sanchism fuelled by the right wing.  

Criticism from the right 

‘The right wing is acting irritated, accusing me of being a man who makes a lot of pledges. We don’t just make pledges, we publish them in the Official Gazette, which is something completely different. What we say we do, we do,’ Sánchez told 1,500 activists and supporters in Valladolid. A day earlier, at a PSOE event, he anticipated Tuesday’s approval in the Council of Ministers of a €580 million investment for primary care. 

The right-wing criticism of Sánchez contrasts with the enthusiasm with which local PSOE candidates at meeting after meeting judge the head of government.  

In April, the inter-territorial council of the National Health System approved the plan to improve the community mental health infrastructure. Now the government is arranging its distribution among the autonomous communities. Andalucia, with the most inhabitants, will receive €7 million, followed by Catalonia (€6.5 million), Madrid (€5.6 million) and the Valencian Community (€4.3 million).  

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What will the money be used for? 

This money will be used to fund a wide area, from psychometric research equipment to mental health teams for children and adolescents. ‘We need to make mental health visible, talk about it, provide economic resources and, above all, not stigmatise it. We need to treat it as a disease for which there is a cure. We set to work, updating a strategy that had not been implemented since 2009, when Zapatero was prime minister. Then there was Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who did nothing,’ Sánchez stressed about a public health issue that, partly due to the pandemic, is no longer a taboo and has gained enormous relevance.  

Mental health care plan 

Last year, the Spanish government launched the mental health plan, with €100 million from the general state budgets for 2022, 2023 and 2024. Moreover, the government has already transferred €24 million from the plan to the autonomous communities last year. But, at the same time, it also took other measures. For instance, the suicide hotline (024) has already processed 118,885 calls since its establishment a year ago until the end of April. That’s an average of 335 a day. 

 ‘We show our face, we do not shy away, we do not stand on the sidelines, unlike the right wing,’ Sánchez said, adding that ‘three of the four regions that spend the least on public health ‘are ruled by the PP and none by the PSOE’.  

Madrid spends least per person on healthcare 

Communities have budgeted an average healthcare expenditure of €1,808.5 per capita for 2023. In Madrid, this is lowest with a budget of €1,446 per inhabitant, Catalonia (€1,456), Murcia (€1,535) and Andalucia (€1,605) spend slightly more. The regions with the highest budgets are Asturias (€2,133), Basque Country (€2,130), Extremadura (€2,092) and Navarre (€2,020). 

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