UN warns of global mental health crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic

14 Mai, 2020, 17:53 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
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Noting that "the COVID-19 virus is not only attacking our physical health, it is also increasing psychological suffering", the United Nations chief said that "grief at the loss of loved ones, shock at the loss of jobs, isolation and restrictions on movement, hard family dynamics and uncertainty and fear for the future" might all cause psychological suffering.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged governments, civil society and health authorities on Wednesday to urgently address mental health needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, warning that psychological suffering is increasing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of communities around the world, experts discuss fears and solutions surrounding mental wellbeing during lockdown - and beyond, in a special online edition of Qatar Foundation's Education City Speaker Series in collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Health, yesterday.

Noting that those most at risk are frontline healthcare workers, older people, adolescents and young people, those with pre-existing mental health conditions and those caught up in conflicts and crises, Guterres said that "we must help them and stand by them".

"It is now crystal clear that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He warned that even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities.

She presented a United Nations report and policy guidance on COVID-19 and mental health, which highlighted several regions and sections of societies as vulnerable to mental distress - including children and youngsters isolated from friends and educational institutions, healthcare workers who are looking after thousands of patients infected with and dying from the dread virus.

The major mental health crisis has come to the forefront as people have developed a fear of losing their loved ones to the pandemic, which has already killed around 3,00,000 people globally since it first emerged in China in late December.

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It is not only limited to elders, but it has also started causing distress among young children as well, who can not go outdoors or to school due to the prolonged lockdown.

Along with women, they also face a heightened risk of domestic abuse as people spend lengthy amounts of time cooped up at home.

And people with pre-existing psychological issues could see them exacerbated, while accessing their usual treatment and face-to-face therapy may no longer be possible. "This is a real crossroads moment in understanding how the progress made in recent years about raising mental health awareness will be converted by governments and populations, as we enter an extremely risky phase for the mental health of our communities".

It says almost 50 percent of such workers in Canada reported a need for psychological support.

The increase in people in need of mental health or psychosocial support has been compounded by the interruption to physical and mental health services in many countries.

Mental health is deteriorating as people scare of losing their livelihood due to the crumbling economy of countries.

It said an additional 130 million people may join the ranks of people living in extreme poverty by 2030, dealing a "huge blow" to global efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by the end of the decade.

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