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EF: 2020, the focus was on diagnostics; 2021 on vaccines and increasing access; what do you think 2022 will be the year of?
SM: Mexico is administering vaccines for free; as a result, we do not commercialize vaccines. Generally, vaccines are preventative measures created by the healthcare sector. In Latin America and Mexico, most insurance companies do not cover prevention medicines or treatments.
EF: Moving forward, what would you like to focus on?
SM: 2022 was the year of getting patients back to care in general. Mental health has to be prioritized more than before because of the pandemic. Depression and anxiety increased exponentially here in Mexico. Several people have been affected by mental health issues, impacting productivity. An estimated one trillion dollars is lost every year due to a reduction in productivity caused by mental illnesses.
There is a lot of stigma around mental conditions, so we have to work together toward a better consensus about mental health. We have to work on the importance of mental health to create better mental health.
EF: What is the role of mental health in developing the economy, and do you think the awareness trends are positive in Mexico?
SM: In terms of productivity, we have lost approximately one trillion dollars in the last year alone. A study is currently taking place in the UK that demonstrates the benefits of treating people with schizophrenia from the very first episode. Every cent invested in treatment generates five dollars back. If nations and companies take care of people with mental health, there will be less investment in the future. Therefore, the earlier a mental condition is diagnosed and treated; the less severe its impact will be in the future. It is something we have to invest in continuously.
In Mexico this year, there has been less investment into mental health. More and more countries are investing more in mental health. Mental health awareness has increased tremendously here in Mexico. Therefore, although investments have decreased, awareness has grown tremendously. After the pandemic, people are now more health-conscious, and they know the importance of mental health because many people have people around them that possibly suffer from mental illnesses.
EF: Do you see a gap that needs to be covered between the investment and awareness of mental health?
SM: Absolutely, there is a big gap. If more people fall ill mentally without treatment, more people will need support, so yes, it is a challenge we need to overcome. I believe it is a challenge that we can overcome with time.
Last month public schools here shut their doors. There are a lot of kids at home, which has increased the parents’ burden. This creates isolation for both the parent and child. Schools must open as soon as possible because education is critical for the country's development.
Now one in three people are taking medicine for mental health. People understand the importance of personal mental health, but we still need to raise the government's awareness.
EF: How do you see progressive mind platforms evolving in the future?
SM: There are many more people engaged in our progress mind platforms. There is also an increase in people that are seeking support. Since there is an increase in people that need help, we have to follow the guidelines and the law. We have support systems for our employees. These support systems include physicians that increase mental health awareness. We are also doing a lot of activities with some associations.
The media can be a great source of information on mental health with better knowledge and understanding. This will lead to better coverage of mental health. When journalists write about mental illness, there is stigmatization. We have to consider how we communicate about the problems with mental health because we can subconsciously criminalize or create more stigma against mental health. Communication is key. How we communicate is important as we want to deliver the right message.
EF: What are your expectations for Lundbeck in Mexico and the region you manage?
SM: Lundbeck’s markets are in 17 countries from Mexico to Peru. Our performance has been growing year on year. Last year alone, we grew by 9%, which is an improvement from previous years. Our growth has allowed us to help people be their best and healthier selves. Our importance has improved the quality of life of people suffering from psychiatric and neurological disorders.
It is important to have innovative products and products that improve people’s quality of life. I am proud to work in Lundbeck with its mission and people.
EF: With your current growth, what would you like to achieve next?
SM: We have new launches coming up in the next few years, one in neurology and another in biology. The idea is to launch new therapies that cover our patients' current needs. We do not want to launch products for needs already being met. We want to create products that support people not covered by the currently available medications.
Some people think there is no evolution in mental health. Thirty years ago, people with schizophrenia would be admitted to an institution. Now people with schizophrenia, depression or other mental conditions can live completely normal lives. People with severe mental illnesses can live normal lives. It has evolved with the help of both medical science and psychology. It is not only about medication but also about therapy that supports people and improves their quality of life.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people that need it, especially people with psychiatric and neurological diseases. We want to give everyone the best opportunity to live their best life.