Background: Thirty to 50% of people exposed to a natural disaster suffer psychological problems in the ensuing months. Aim: To characterize the activities in mental health developed by Primary Health Care centers after the earthquake that affected Chile on February 27th, 2010. Material and methods: A cross-sectional study analyzing 16 urban centers of Maule Region, was carried out. A questionnaire was developed to know the preparatory and supportive activities directed to the community and the training and self-care activities directed to Health Care personnel that were made during the 12 months following the catastrophe. In addition, a questionnaire evaluating structural aspects was designed. Results: Only 1/3 of the centers made some preparatory activity and none of them made a diagnosis of population vulnerability. The average of protective Mental Health interventions coverage reached 35% of the population estimated to be most affected. The activities lasted 31 to 62% of the optimal duration standards set by experts (according to the type of action). Important differences between centers in economic and geographical accessibility, construction and professional resources were found. Conclusions: This study shows the difficulties faced by urban centers of Maule Region to deal with mental health problems caused by the earthquake, which were attributable to the absence of local planning and drills, and to the lack of intra and inter sectorial coordination.
Disasters; Mental health; Primary health care