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Sheila Nkirote
Kifaru

How has your Mental Health been Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing, according to a new WHO survey. The survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services and underscores the urgent need for increased funding.

The survey was published ahead of WHO’s Big Event for Mental Health ̶ a global online advocacy event on 10 October that will bring together world leaders, celebrities, and advocates to call for increased mental health investments in the wake of COVID-19.

WHO has previously highlighted the chronic underfunding of mental health: prior to the pandemic, countries were spending less than 2 percent of their national health budgets on mental health, and struggling to meet their populations’ needs.

And the pandemic is increasing demand for mental health services. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. Meanwhile, COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological, or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection ̶ they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death.

“Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they’re needed most. World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programs ̶ during the pandemic and beyond.”

Survey finds major disruptions to critical mental health services

The survey was conducted from June to August 2020 among 130 countries across WHO’s six regions. It evaluates how the provision of mental, neurological, and substance use services has changed due to COVID-19, the types of services that have been disrupted, and how countries are adapting to overcome these challenges.

Countries reported widespread disruption of many kinds of critical mental health services:

Over 60% reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents (72%), older adults (70%), and women requiring antenatal or postnatal services (61%).

67% saw disruptions to counseling and psychotherapy; 65% to critical harm reduction services; and 45% to opioid agonist maintenance treatment for opioid dependence.

More than a third (35%) reported disruptions to emergency interventions, including those for people experiencing prolonged seizures; severe substance use withdrawal syndromes; and delirium, often a sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

30% reported disruptions to access medications for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders.

Around three-quarters reported at least partial disruptions to school and workplace mental health services (78% and 75% respectively).

Related Questions

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1 Her Answer

  1. My mental health wasn’t perfect before Covid. But I was feeling pretty great about how I was progressing. And then I lost my job. For context, I worked remotely for a Global gym app so I actually kind of new the world was about to turn around completely. I’d get these emails from Asia asking for refRead more

    My mental health wasn’t perfect before Covid. But I was feeling pretty great about how I was progressing. And then I lost my job. For context, I worked remotely for a Global gym app so I actually kind of new the world was about to turn around completely. I’d get these emails from Asia asking for refunds cause gyms have closed down etc and then we had over 20K emails by March and then of course… shit hit the fan. So no Job. Couldn’t pay rent. It was taking me back to a place of dependency. I’d worked so hard to finally be independent and here I was, having to depend on my family again.

    Pretty soon I started going back to old habits. I’d be drunk all the time because I hated my reality. My anxiety was over the roof because of the drinking. My new living situation with my sister was fragile because she’s 8 years older than me and also very religious. Not to mention the constant fear that I’ll get sick, I could and not even afford healthcare. Or make my loved ones sick too.

    This is my main concern though, if me, an ordinary person is being affected this way, what about doctors and nurses? You can mute Covid on social media and that’ll make you relax but it’s their job everyday. I’ve read of a doctor who killed herself because she just couldn’t handle it anymore. And a nurse who lost it in the ER and had to be held down. There are so many stories out there that are just so heartbreaking it makes you want to give up.

    But I think there’s also resilience. So many people have died. So many doctors, too. We should feel lucky to still be here because we are. If you have a bad day, just breathe. Get through that day. And the next. Somehow, we’re all experiencing some trauma, but I’m taking comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one.

    I must continue living.

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1 His Answer

  1. Since early 2020 to the present due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, citizens from around the world have been experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Some of the causes contributing to increased tension are unemployment resulting in loss of income, sickness, social isolation, death of a famRead more

    Since early 2020 to the present due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, citizens from around the world have been experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Some of the causes contributing to increased tension are unemployment resulting in loss of income, sickness, social isolation, death of a family member due to the virus, the uncertainty of what the future holds, helplessness, and lack of individual control over the situation we are all facing.

    According to a definition by the World Health Organization mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.” The psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in the mental health and emotional well-being of millions, regardless of nationalities, being affected in many ways.

    This is particularly true when it comes to young individuals. The seclusion, lack of contact with peers, and for many, the loss of emotional and financial security, impacted their daily lives including disruption in their education. This has resulted in youth facing an increased risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. The pandemic has also contributed to the diminished productivity of the youth, because of the various stressors mentioned above.

    Unfortunately, this has caused an increase in the rates of youth suicide as they were unable to cope with those various stressors they have often been ill-prepared to face. A recent review about the relationship between mental health and loneliness/social isolation in children and adolescents warned that COVID-19 social distancing measures may be particularly detrimental for youth according to a study published by Loades et al (2020).

    Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has actually exacerbated the already existing digital divide among and within countries and has resulted in massive closures of educational institutions, including those at the tertiary level. An article of The World Bank mentioned that there is emerging evidence even from some of Europe’s highest-income countries, that the ongoing pandemic is giving rise to learning losses and increased inequality among the youth.

    To effectively address the negative impacts caused by COVID-19 globally, decision and policy-makers, educational leaders, professors, and the staff of academic centers jointly with the youth, need to work together to ensure that young people have the support and resources they need to address their mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs in the wake of the pandemic. Furthermore, we all need to be as tolerant and empathetic as possible.

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1 Answer

  1. Mental Health has aways been an issue and although COVID-19 just gave it more attention, it also pushed people to limits they have never reached before. I wonder if people will keep the lessons after the wave if it even goes away.

    Mental Health has aways been an issue and although COVID-19 just gave it more attention, it also pushed people to limits they have never reached before. I wonder if people will keep the lessons after the wave if it even goes away.

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