Coronavirus (1014) WHO: COVID-19 disrupting mental health services in most countries

7 October, 2020

Extracts and a comment from me below. Full text here:


World Mental Health Day on 10 October to highlight urgent need to increase investment in chronically underfunded sector

5 October 2020 News release

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing, according to a new WHO survey. The survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services and underscores the urgent need for increased funding...

WHO has previously highlighted the chronic underfunding of mental health: prior to the pandemic, countries were spending less than 2 per cent of their national health budgets on mental health, and struggling to meet their populations’ needs...

And the pandemic is increasing demand for mental health services. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. Meanwhile, 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...

“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.”...

WHO has issued guidance to countries on how to maintain essential services ̶ including mental health services ̶ during COVID-19... [ ]


Comment (NPW): The general public, health workers and policymakers need ready access to reliable information onhow to prevent and manage mental health conditions; to be protected from mental health misinformation, misconception and stigma; and to be able to tell the difference between reliable information and misinformation. HIFA stands ready to develop a dedicated project for this purpose. Meanwhile I invite all HIFA members to share their experience of mental health services during COVID. Has the pandemic impacted on mental health services in your country?

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: