The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned against a rise in depression, anxiety and substance use disorders as the economic & social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase.
According to a new policy brief by WHO and the United Nations, specific population groups are at particular risk of COVID-related psychological distress. These include, Frontline health-care workers, faced with heavy workloads, life-or-death decisions, and risk of infection, are particularly affected.
Children, adolescents and older people especially those living alone are also at risk as well and people with pre-existing mental health conditions.
Women, particularly those who are juggling home-schooling, working from home and household tasks, have also been cited among those at risk of developing mental disorders.
WHO director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said mental health is just as important as physical health and the pandemic is serving us this reminder.
is just as important as physical health. As the economic & social impacts of the pandemic expand, we can expect to see a rise in depression, anxiety and substance use disorders,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO director further called for substantial investment to avert a mental health crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need to urgently increase investment in services for mental health or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months”, he said.
Increased Alcohol Consumption
The policy paper has also reported an increase in alcohol consumption, saying it’s another area of concern for mental health experts.
Statistics from Canada for instance report that 20% of 15-49 year-olds have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further stated that that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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. “This is a collective responsibility of governments and civil society, with the support of the whole United Nations System. A failure to take people’s emotional well-being seriously will lead to long-term social and economic costs to society,” the WHO boss.