According to a new WHO report, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed or suspended vital mental health services in 93 percent of nations globally, despite rising demand for mental health care. The survey of 130 nations provides the first global evidence of COVID-19’s disastrous impact on mental health care access.
Prior to the pandemic, countries were spending less than 2% of their national health budgets on mental health, and were struggling to satisfy their people’ requirements, according to the World Health Organization.
The epidemic is driving up demand for mental health care. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear can all trigger or exacerbate mental health problems. Many people may be experiencing an upsurge in alcohol and drug usage, as well as insomnia and worry. COVID-19, on the other hand, can cause neurological and mental problems like psychosis, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological, or substance-abusing illnesses are also more prone to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and they may face a higher risk of severe consequences, including death.
Good mental health is very fundamental to overall health and well-being, COVID-19 has disrupted critical mental health services around the world at a critical time. World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes ̶ during the pandemic and beyond.
Major Disruptions to Key Mental Health Services Are Discovered in A Survey.
From June to August 2020, the survey was conducted in 130 countries throughout WHO’s six regions. It assesses how COVID-19 has affected the delivery of mental, neurological, and drug use services, the sorts of services that have been disrupted, and how nations are changing to meet these problems.
Different Types of Important Mental Health Services
Children and adolescents (72 percent), older persons (70 percent), and women seeking prenatal or postnatal services (60 percent) all experienced disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable populations (61 percent).
Counselling and psychotherapy were disrupted in 67 percent of cases, crucial harm reduction treatments in 65 percent, and opioid agonist maintenance treatment in 45 percent of cases.
Emergency interventions, such as those for patients having extended seizures, severe substance use withdrawal syndromes, and delirium, which is typically a sign of a dangerous underlying medical condition, were found to be disrupted by more than a third (35 percent).
Access to drugs for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders was reported to be disrupted by 30% of respondents.
Around three-quarters said mental health services at school and at work have been disrupted in some way (78 percent and 75 percent respectively).
While many countries (70%) have embraced telemedicine or teletherapy to address disruptions in in-person treatments, there are considerable differences in its adoption. In comparison to less than half of low-income nations, more than 80% of high-income countries reported using telemedicine and teletherapy to overcome mental health gaps.
During COVID-19, WHO has released guidelines to nations on how to preserve vital services, including mental health services, and recommends that countries dedicate resources to mental health as an integral part of their response and recovery strategies. The Organization also encourages governments to keep an eye on service changes and disruptions so that they can respond appropriately.
Despite the fact that mental health and psychosocial support are included in 89 percent of nations’ national COVID-19 response plans, only 17 percent of these countries have complete supplementary funds to cover these activities.