In 2018, McLean Hospital and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) forged a collaboration aimed at increasing mental health awareness while reducing the stigma too often associated with mental health. Through innovative and engaging programs, McLean and USFQ are enhancing mental health education throughout Ecuador and South America.
Building on the academic missions of McLean and USFQ, the first initiative launched between these two organizations has been to offer conferences aimed at providing students, mental health providers, government officials, and educators with best practices in mental health.
With the success of the conferences, McLean turned its attention to bringing its award-winning mental health awareness and stigma reduction campaign, Deconstructing Stigma, to Quito.
Over two years, through word-of-mouth and social media posts, McLean successfully recruited more than 10 brave volunteers from across Ecuador to share their experiences living with mental illness, as well as the unique cultural and stigma challenges they have faced.
To ensure the stories told through Deconstructing Stigma were culturally sensitive and relevant, McLean enlisted volunteer writers and reviewers from USFQ. Through this effort, the Ecuador-specific Deconstructing Stigma campaign highlights the resiliency of its Ecuadorian participants in accurate and compelling ways. McLean anticipates installing Deconstructing Stigma in a shopping plaza adjacent to the USFQ campus in 2023.
A focus on increasing understanding about mental health and reducing stigma in Ecuador and around the world is critically important to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance use.
McLean and USFQ are dedicated to maintaining their collaborative efforts and continue to plan future events and exhibitions.
See the Vistazo magazine article about the collaboration.
Facts About Mental Health in Ecuador
- Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in Ecuador, followed by anxiety, stress, and substance addiction
- Mental health stigma has a negative effect across the country and impacts the level of support and treatment that people receive
- Suicide is the first leading cause of death among teen girls and the fourth leading cause among men
- Ecuadorian men are three times more likely than women to die by suicide
USFQ is the highest-ranked university in Ecuador and is ranked number 57 in Latin America. Each year, it welcomes 8,393 undergraduate and graduate students representing more than 80 nationalities and countries (including 500 indigenous students and 1,000 international students). The university encompasses 967 teachers and staff, 10 colleges and academic schools, and 51 careers.
The USFQ is classified in the highest category (Category A) by the National Council of Evaluation and Accreditation of Higher Education and is the only fully private university in Ecuador in this category.
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