Uruguay: New Community Mental Health Reference Centre

The Dianova Uruguay Foundation will manage a mental health referral centre dedicated to supporting highly vulnerable people

Shadowed hands

The new centre will offer immediate mental health support and substance use counselling in order to cater to the needs of people with high social vulnerability – Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

The Ministry of Social Development of Uruguay inaugurated the Community Mental Health Referral Centre, which will have an interdisciplinary team providing 24-hour care for people with high social vulnerability. The centre aims to provide an early and timely response to mental health crises and problematic drug use, in order to avoid hospitalization and chip away at emergency department overcrowding.

Read the original article published by the Ministry of Social Development of Uruguay (Spanish)

To implement the project, the Ministry of Social Development rented a large house in the Pocitos neighbourhood in Montevideo, the capital of the country, to be managed by the Dianova Uruguay Foundation, which has been working in the country for almost 30 years.

The new centre will have a 24-hour interdisciplinary team of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, nursing assistants, social educators and peers.

On Tuesday, June 25, the Minister of Social Development, Alejandro Sciarra, and the National Director of Social Protection, Fernanda Auersperg, toured the centre together with representatives of Dianova and part of the team that will work there.

New mental health centre in Uruguay

Representatives of the Ministry toured the new centre, alongside Fabrizio Glisenti (left), Director of the Dianova Uruguay Foundation – Photo: Ministry of Social Development, all rights reserved

The Director of Social Protection stated that this is the first centre in Latin America with these characteristics, aimed primarily at people living on the streets or those who have recently regained their freedom. “We are looking for immediate attention because we know that consultations in hospitals require a waiting time” said Auersperg.

The director explained that the centre will have the capacity to attend to approximately 1,000 consultations per month, both spontaneously – when people present themselves directly there – and in a coordinated manner, scheduling them through the care network that exists throughout the country.

The home also has 10 beds for people who need care at the moment. “While alternatives are being sought in the care network, here they will also have a place to spend the night and wait in search of the best place to attend to their situation” Auersperg pointed out.

Finally, the authorities emphasized that with all that is planned for this year, 2024 will end with 760 places with a housing component, 310 outpatient and 1,000 monthly consultations.

The centre will provide:

  • Spaces for individual, counselling and primary contact
  • Individual and/or group psychotherapeutic approaches
  • Psychiatric care
  • Crisis care (not acute decompensation states)
  • Short-stay residential response
  • Guidance for adherence and specific management of psychopharmacological treatment
  • Group spaces for prevention and health promotion
  • Programmed home visits
  • Psycho-educational spaces for family members