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Major' mental health crisis looming from pandemic: UN


May 3, 2009
'Major' mental health crisis looming from pandemic: UN
AFPMay 14, 2020

"Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety, depression will continue to affect people," says UN. — Creative commons/File
The coronavirus outbreak risks sparking a major global mental health crisis, the United Nations warned on Thursday, calling for urgent action to address the psychological suffering brought on by the pandemic.

While protecting physical health has been the main concern during the first months of the crisis, it is also placing huge mental strains on large swathes of the global population, the UN said in policy brief.

"After decades of neglect and underinvestment in mental health services, the Covid-19 pandemic is now hitting families and communities with additional mental stress," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a video message launching the brief.

"Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities," he said.

The UN brief highlighted the mental strains on people fearing that they or loved ones will be infected or die from the novel coronavirus, which has killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year.

It also pointed to the psychological impact on vast numbers of people who have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods, have been separated from loved ones or have suffered under drastic lockdown orders.

'Tremendous stress'
"We know that the current situations, the fear and uncertainty, the economic turmoil — they all cause or could cause psychological distress," Devora Kestel, head of the World Health Organisation's mental health and substance use department, told a virtual briefing.

Health care workers and first responders — operating under "tremendous stress" — are particularly vulnerable, Kestel said, pointing to news reports indicating rises in suicides among medical workers.

A whole host of other groups also face particular psychological challenges brought on by the crisis.

Children being kept out of school, for instance, face uncertainty and anxiety.

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

The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, who are considered particularly at risk from the virus, meanwhile face increased stress over the threat of infection.

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.

Thursday's policy brief pointed to a range of national studies indicating that mental distress is mounting rapidly.

One study conducted in the Amhara region of Ethiopia showed that 33 percent of the population were suffering from depression-linked symptoms — "a three-fold increase" from before the pandemic.

Other studies indicated that mental distress prevalence amid the crisis was as high as 60 percent in Iran and 45 percent in the United States, Kestel said.

She also pointed to a Canadian study showing nearly half of health care workers said they needed psychological support.

The UN brief stressed the need for countries to include access to psychosocial support and emergency mental care in all aspects of their response to the pandemic.

It called for a significant hike in investments in this area, pointing out that before the crisis, countries on average dedicated only two percent of their public health budgets to mental health support.

Umair Tahir


New Recruit

Mar 31, 2020
The current Covid-19 pandemic has had tremendous psychological and social consequences on the populace. Studies has highlighted the effect on psychological properly-being of the maximum exposed agencies, which include children, university college students, and medical examiners, who're much more likely to broaden submit-worrying pressure disorder, anxiety, depression, and other signs of distress. The social distance and the security measures have affected the connection among humans and their notion of empathy closer to others.

Take these steps to overcome the stress.
  • Take breaks from watching, studying, or listening to news tales, which includes the ones on social media. It’s desirable to be informed, but hearing approximately the pandemic constantly can be frightening. remember restricting information to just a couple times an afternoon and disconnecting from phone, television, and computer screens for some time.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Try to eat wholesome, nicely-balanced meals.
  • Exercising frequently for physical health.
  • Get lots of sleep.
  • keep away from excessive tobacco, and substance use.
  • Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine while available.
  • Make time to unwind. Attempt to do a little other activities you enjoy.
  • Hook up with others. Talk with people external icon you agree with about your worries and the way you feel.
  • Hook up with your community- or religion-primarily based groups. Even as social distancing measures are in place, strive connecting online, via social media, or through cellphone or mail.

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