Mental Health in Latvia
Latvia is located in the Baltic region. This northern European country’s active involvement in many international organizations allows for it to have diverse approaches to its policies. However, Latvia still has a long way to go when it comes to societal issues such as mental health. In fact, poor mental health in Latvia was one of the leading contributors to disease burden in 2017.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a balance between an individual’s potential, community interactions and everyday stressors of life. A high number of mental health disorders in a country results in social and economic burdens. Therefore, mental health treatment plays a crucial role in the overall health of a country’s citizens.

The population at risk of experiencing poor mental health are citizens who report a low level of social connection and household income. As the WHO’s definition of mental health describes, community and everyday stressors, such as economic issues, correlate to overall life satisfaction.

Societies typically measure mental health to increase diagnosis and treatment. Compared with other European countries, Latvia has lower indicators of mental health. Here are four key facts to know about mental health in Latvia.

4 Key Facts About Mental Health in Latvia

  1. The Progression of Mental Health Care: When Latvia was a part of the Soviet Union, patients took on a more passive role in their mental health medical treatment. Since then, Latvia restored its independence in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 2004. With its global involvement, Latvia not only gained allies but was also able to learn more diverse ways of treating mental health. Before joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2016, Latvia had to follow criteria related to quality health care such as giving patients a more active role in their treatment. As a result of these guidelines, Latvia is now moving toward better psychiatric care
  2. Rate of Diagnosis: A 2012 study assessed depression in a general population of Latvia for one year. It then measured how many people with this mental illness sought out health care. Results indicated that depression is under-diagnosed in Latvia. Latvia has improved its efficiency despite the health care system remaining underfunded. Changes like these are a part of a larger plan to increase mental health care.
  3. Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goal 3: The United Nations has a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes encouraging mental health and well-being. Overall, the U.N. developed 17 goals to achieve prosperity. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Latvia is still making progress toward these goals through its parliament’s push for civic engagement. With an increase in political participation, more policies will develop that reflect the needs of its citizens, including in the mental health sector.
  4. Latvia’s National Development Plan: Latvia currently has a National Development Plan for 2021-2027. The country developed this primarily economic policy in accordance with the U.N. Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among these goals, Latvia included a section on quality of life, which stresses the importance of mental health along with physical health. In order to accomplish this, the country plans on having targeted cooperation between rural and urban areas and municipal cooperation between the economies in different regions. This cooperation will allow for participation that will recognize the various needs of its citizens.

Ritineitis

A nonprofit organization called Ritineitis has a foundation called the Adult Non-formal Education Center Azote that focuses on mentoring for educational and professional needs. One project, “ASNI,” allowed young people to come up with proposals that would help the daily life of Latvia’s citizens. The goal of this project was to promote youth civic participation. Numerous projects came out of this competition, including the promotion of youth sports, exercising and even weaving. Participating in civic participation at a young age will most likely lead to continuing this practice later in life. This participation will increase policies aimed at the societal needs of Latvian citizens, in turn, increasing mental health awareness.

Latvia may have lower mental health indicators than other European countries, but its current policies are working to improve ways to record this type of data. Its National Development Plan recognizes the need to promote “health literacy [as] a national priority.” Overall, Latvia is moving forward in its plans to increase the social and physical well-being of its population.

–  Mia Banuelos
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