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In a startling revelation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries around the globe.
A survey conducted by the international health agency in 130 countries has reported a devastating impact of the virus outbreak on access to mental health services and has stressed the urgent need for increased investment in such vital services.
The survey was published ahead of WHO's Big Event for Mental Health scheduled on 10 October. It is important to note that the organisation had previously pointed out chronic underfunding on mental health prior to the pandemic. It has identified that the countries were spending less than 2 per cent of their national health budgets on mental health.
The pandemic has pushed for the need for crucial mental healthcare services. Several factors including isolation, the need for social distancing, job security, loss of income, and fear have been reported to trigger mental health conditions.
"COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection ̶ they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death," said WHO, in a statement.
"Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
"COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they're needed most. World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes ̶ during the pandemic and beyond," he added.
The data has highlighted over 60% reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents (72%), older adults (70%), and women requiring antenatal or postnatal services (61%). 30% reported disruptions to access medications for mental, neurological and substance use disorders, and around three-quarters reported at least partial disruptions to school and workplace mental health services (78% and 75% respectively).
It also said that although 89% of countries reported in the survey that mental health and psychosocial support is part of their national COVID-19 response plans, only 17% of these countries have full additional funding for covering these activities.
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