We often hear “a right, not a privilege” in the debate over universal health care. Whether through the media, from politicians, the classroom, or our families, the adage is a fundamental belief which many people hold close. But like most sayings, the sincerity can fluctuate from person to person. Unfortunately, for many individuals, access to health care where needs are fully met is a privilege. Noncommunicable diseases like mental illness have a global history of going untreated, facing discrimination, and enduring abuse.
More than 11 million people worldwide are suffering from COVID-19 (Worldometer, July 4, 2020). The global spread is halting economies with a stronger impact in Latin American countries that were already struggling with limited health services, a broad informal market, and high unemployment rates. In these countries, households suffer persistent worries about their health, economic uncertainty, and rigid social isolation, some of the stressors that can lead to mental health diseases.