Home Institution

Vanderbilt University

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


This study explores how familiar community mental health organizations in Valparaíso follow an established model of community mental health, derived from a variety of essays, books, and reports on the topic. Additionally, it serves to present the effect of this relationship on the contemporary social revolution in Chile. The present social and political unrest, manifesting itself in massive protests throughout the country, presents a unique moment in which these themes can be examined. Additionally, Chile encounters high rates of psychological disorders among its population, a lack of protection for the mental health of children and adolescents, and a lack of research about daily mental health support for Chileans, which emphasizes the relevance of investigating to what extent mental health resources and those for families, specifically, adhere to the model. The community mental health model accumulated from a variety of sources outlines several characteristics as goals for community mental health in Chile: a biopsychosocial approach, a focus on prevention, an emphasis on the rights of users as patients and as community members, and respect for diversity. However, currently, no extensive research has not been carried out to determine whether or not this model is implemented, and the research that is available suggests that it is not.

Thus, through a qualitative and exploratory research design using conversations with mental health professionals, a variety of literary sources, and observation, these themes are investigated. Via this methodology, a series of findings are presented regarding interviewees’ perception of the ideal model of community mental health, its implementation, and how this relationship affects the current social movement in Chile. The results suggest that, in Valparaiso, community mental health organizations tend to have a clinical, rather than societal, focus and often prioritize mercantilism over users’ rights and the acceptance and accommodation of diversity. Additionally, the system operates within municipalities, and therefore, organizations vary greatly in the resources they have to offer. It can be concluded that the definition provided by interviewees in this study corresponds with the established definition of community mental health and does not correspond with its implementation. Additionally, this theme is present in the current social revolution in Chile, though the movement is much broader and rooted in a rich socio-historical context which cannot be neglected.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Community Psychology | Health Communication | Health Policy | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Mental and Social Health | Multicultural Psychology | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Article Location