Mental Health Resources in Mexico for Expats


Me in Mexico City's Zocalo. The picture says "having the time of my life."
Yet my mental health journey remains undocumented by photography.
One of the most difficult things I found about moving from Canada to Mexico was trying to find mental health resources. I was used to having a family doctor who I could call anytime and provide referrals to services. I was also receiving free psychotherapy thanks to the Canadian health plan and seeing a psychiatrist for free. My drugs were covered by my medical plan at work.

It was mental health utopia.

In Mexico there wasn't free therapy, medication certainly wasn't free and I wasn't sure how to find a psychiatrist. And even if I did, what about the language barrier?

Keep in mind that according to the World Health Organization, mental health expenditures in Mexico only account for 0.65% of the government health department's total budget. This is not a country that has freely available and affordable mental health resources.

That said, I've managed to find access to resources that are reasonably priced, good quality and English speaking. The situation isn't perfect but it works.

I'll impart my wisdom below but first things first. Mental health maintenance is so important when you're living abroad. Existing conditions can be exascerbated and perfectly healthy people might become depressed or anxious due to living in newly strange and isolating circumstances.

Don't wait. Get the help you need so that you can enjoy living in Mexico (or elsewhere) to the fullest.

You deserve mental health help and support.

Onwards to the guts and innards of this post.

How Do I Find a Psychologist or Psychiatrist?

See the resource section below. I've listed embassy recommendations from the US and Canada. Everyone else can Google their embassy's webpage to find recommmended doctors that speak your language. If you can't find any such information don't be shy about calling your embassy. Here's a list of embassies in Mexico. This is important! Pick up that phone!

How Much for Therapy?

You can reasonably expect to pay about 300 MXN per session for a psychologist who normally charges about 700-800 MXN an hour. You will discuss your financial situation in the first session and how much you can pay.

This is a lot of money, sadly prohibitive for the average Mexican, but it is probably much less than you would pay for private therapy in your home country. Be honest with your prospective therapist about how much you can afford.

Psychiatrists don't offer discounts, in my experience, and cost about 800 MXN a session. That said, you usually only need two sessions, a consultation and then a follow-up meeting

Also, don't be afraid to shop around. Different therapists have different styles. Some will rub you the wrong way and some will gel perfectly. Choose the person who will help, not hinder, healing..

How Often Will I Go to Therapy?

Some therapists see you once a week, others prefer twice a week for better results. Sessions are usually 50 minutes each. 

Some psychiatrists also offer counselling but if you're just consulting them about medication you'll only need an initial consultation and then the occasional follow-up. If you're really strapped for cash ask them if you can do a quick follow-up for free via phone/email.

How Do I Get a Prescription?

In a pinch, Farmacias del Ahorro have a free clinic where the resident doctor may be able to prescribe medication. However, these psychicians are of dubious quality and are definitely not psychiatrists.

You'll be much better off seeking out a qualified psychiatrist to get your prescription (see resource section below). If you already have a prescription from your doctor at home, shop around at the various pharmacies (there are tons) to find the best deal. 

Beware of Mexican generic medication. Some are of very shoddy quality. Farmacias del Ahorro's generics have worked well for thus far. They certainly aren't bargains but they're a good deal cheaper than the branded version.

In general, medication in Mexico is not affordable. If you work for a legit company or your spouse/partner does for heaven's sake take advantage of any drug plan on offer.

Help! It's an Emergency

In case of a mental health emergency in Mexico dial 066, 060, or 080 for assistance. Please also refer to the resource section below for hospital recommendations.

Live outside Mexico? Check out Matador's post on how to dial 911 around the world.

Resources
  • Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico, a list that includes psychologists recommended by the Canadian government.
  • Hospitals in Mexico City, the US Embassy's list of approved hospitals. Includes free/cheap hospitals (in case of a mental health emergency), a psychiatric hospital and a counselling service.
  • List of embassies in Mexico.
  • Laura Elena Ferron-Martinez in Mexico City is a superior psychologist with good English. She's located in Condesa and offers a flexible hourly rate.
  • Sharon Blanco in Mexico City was my psychologist for over a year. She has excellent English, is located in Roma Norte and has a flexible hourly rate. Does Skype sessions worldwide.
Stay tuned for a post on other affordable mental health resources in Mexico, such as meditation groups, and tips on how to keep your head above water in a foreign country.

Was this post helpful? Do you know of any great mental health resources in Mexico? Have a story you'd like to share? Comment below!

** Disclaimer: this post does not constitute medical advice. I am not a medical professional and can only provide personal experience. Please seek out a physician for advice. **

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63 comments:

Ryde Natural Health said...

You are right that not all country provides free mental health check up. Mexico is one of them. But some organizations give opportunity to check up. I think you should check it on website where any trusties give any facilities or not. Thanks!!

Alex said...

So weird that meds in Mexico are considered "not affordable"... in comparison to the US they're cheap (without insurance, we're talking). This is useful info, thanks for posting it!

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