The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased mental health services because of a massive increase in mental health challenges caused by social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members, said Dr. Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization.
“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is extremely concerning,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus, adding that there is an urgent need to increase investment in mental health services during the coming months.
Reports already indicate an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety in a number of countries. A recent study in Ethiopia reported a three-fold increase in the prevalence of symptoms of depression compared to estimates before the pandemic.
The study noted that women are particularly at risk because they are juggling home-schooling, working from home and household tasks.
An increase in alcohol consumption is another area of concern for mental health experts.
Statistics from Canada report that 20% of 15 to 49 year olds have been drinking more alcohol during the pandemic.
The pandemic has interrupted access to mental health and psychological support services because many groups have been unable to meet for several weeks because of social distancing.
“It is now crystal clear that mental health needs must be treated as a core element of our response to and recovery from Covid-19,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.