It’s over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked havoc throughout the world, while people battling mental health problems were the most affected ones. According to a new survey by the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 pandemic has either disrupted or halted critical mental health services in around 93 percent countries worldwide.
The rise in the demand for mental health services amid COVID-19 is attributed to bereavement, isolation, fear of triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones, and of course loss of income or financial problems. According to a new research by Pew Research Center, one-in-four adults have found it difficult to pay their bills since the pandemic outbreak started.
Talking about the lower-income adults, 46 percent faced troubled to pay their bills since the pandemic started and around 32 percent found it hard to make rent or mortgage payments. In addition, 25 percent of adults in America reported that they or someone in their household lost their job due to problems arising from COVID-19 outbreak.
While job loss emerged as a major concern amid the pandemic, Americans were also bothered about their ability to save money. Among those who were usually able to put money into savings, 36 percent reported to have saved less since the COVID-19 outbreak started, as indicated in the findings of Pew Research Center survey.
Furthermore, COVID-19 related problems have also led to increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. 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.”
Over 60 percent participants in the WHO survey report disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including older adults (70%), children and adolescents (72%), and women requiring antenatal or postnatal services (61%). While 67 percent faced disruptions to psychotherapy and counseling, and 45 percent see disruptions for opioid dependence.
WHO has issued guidelines to countries to make essential arrangements to provide mental health services during COVID-19 and to allocate resources to mental health as an integral component of their response and recovery plans.
What We Can Do
WHO is doing its job in ensuring that people struggling with mental health problems, especially in these testing times, get the much needed help. At the same time, we can also do certain things to provide relief to the vulnerable population, which may include our loved ones.
Take care of your neighbors. While it is important to maintain social distancing, the act of checking in on them (keeping six feet apart, of course) will make them feel good and minimize their stress. You can also support local business so that they are able to pay their staff (taking COVID-19 measures).
Since people with mental health problems are more vulnerable to panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and other problems, you can keep an eye on such people for signs, symptoms or triggers. And in case any medical assistance is required, feel free to call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 and speak with a representative. Alternatively, you can also chat with an admission counselor for further details.