A survey recently conducted by WHO states that essential mental health services have been stopped or disrupted by COVID-19 in 93% of countries globally. 130 countries were surveyed for the report. This is the first worldwide report that has looked at the significant impact the pandemic has had on mental health care. It demonstrates that an increase in funding is desperately needed. WHO published this survey before their Big Event for Mental Health. This online advocacy event, which took place on 10 October, involved advocates, celebrities, and world leaders in a call for new investments in mental health.
Mental health underfunding is a topic that has been highlighted by the WHO in the past. Before COVID-19, most nations were putting below 2% of national health budgets toward mental health care, making it difficult to meet the needs of the population. Because of the pandemic, the need for mental health care has increased. Many people are coping with loss of wages, anxiety, feelings of isolation, work addiction therapy, and bereavement. This can worsen existing mental health problems and trigger new ones. There are people struggling with anxiety and insomnia. Some are abusing drugs and alcohols. The coronavirus has also been linked to mental and neurological issues, including strokes, delirium, and agitation.
Those that have struggled with substance abuse or neurological are mental health conditions have an increased vulnerability to COVID-19. They are more likely to experience serious outcomes or fatality. Experts have repeatedly stressed that mental heath is crucial to a person’s well-being. Mental health services have been interrupted globally because of the pandemic. Now is the time for world leaders to make an investment in mental health care. This investment is vital now, but it should continue in the future as well.
According to researchers, essential mental health services have been disrupted In a survey that was conducted between June and August 2020 across 130 countries, researchers found that mental health care has changed significantly because of COVID-19. The study looked at how services for substance abuse, neurological and mental health care have been disrupted or altered. The report also looked at what countries have done to address these issues. The report found that, across the globe, many essential services had been disrupted. More than 60% of countries stated that mental health services for vulnerable groups had been disrupted. 74% report disruptions for children and adolescents, 70% reported disruptions for older adults, and 60% reported disruptions for women receiving postnatal or antenatal services. There were psychotherapy and counselling disruptions for 67% of the surveyed nations. 65% reported disruptions to essential harm reduction services. 45% reported that those struggling with opioid dependence had disruptions to maintenance treatments. 35% of nations reported that emergency interventions had experienced disruptions. This includes care for those going through withdrawal after substance use, those exhibiting symptoms of delirium, and people that suffered prolonged seizures. Nearly a third (30%) stated that medication access had been disrupted for people struggling with substance abuse, mental health, and neurological disorders. 78% reported disruptions to mental health services in schools, and 75% reported disruptions to services in the workplace.
Although 70% of surveyed nations have used tele-therapy and telemedicine to avoid disruptions, these interventions show notable disparities in uptake. Over 80% of high-income nations stated that they had used tele-therapy and telemedicine to avoid disruptions to mental health care. However, under 50% of low-income countries reported that they were utilising these services. Countries have been given guidance from WHO on how they can continue to provide critical health services like mental health care throughout the pandemic. The organisation has recommended that nations devote resources to mental health when developing plans for response and recovery.
WHO has also recommended countries to monitor service disruptions so that they can take steps to address these issues. Even though 89% of surveyed nations said that support for mental health care is included in their pandemic response plans, just 17% of countries have the full funding allocated to cover these services.