EHS-COVID (379) COVID-19 and mental health services

5 June, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

We are shortly entering our fifth week of our deep dive into Maintaining essential health services during COVID-19. This thematic discussion, sponsored by WHO, aims to promote sharing of experience and expertise among HIFA members for the benefit of others worldwide. We are especially keen to hear about the impact of COVID-19 on mental health *services*, but we recognise the huge impact on mental health in general and we welcome comments on this also.

Here are some guiding questions:

Q1. What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the MENTAL health of people in your country?

Q2. What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the MENTAL health of health workers in your country/facility?

Q3. How has COVID-19 affected the delivery of essential MENTAL health services in your health facility or country?

Q4. What has been the impact of health service disruptions on the MENTAL health and wellbeing of people in your health facility or country?

Q5. What have you, your health facility or country done to maintain essential MENTAL health services?

Q1. There are increasing reports that COVID-19 has had profound impacts on the mental health of the general public. COVID-19 itself can cause or precipitate long-term mental health problems. Every person who dies from COVID leaves behind family and friends whose mental health may be affected by the bereavement. COVID-19 can precipitate poverty and mental health issues directly, or indirectly as a result of 'lockdown' measures and job losses. All of this would suggest there is an inceased need for mental health services, just at the time when such services may be less accessible.

Q2. COVID-19 has caused increased mental health problems, especially stress and burnout, among health workers, who have been under enormous pressure with rising workloads, longer shifts, disempowerment (as in India, whereby lack of basic treatments such as oxygen has disempowered health workers of their ability to give lifesaving care), and high risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19.

Q3. We would be grateful for your observations on 'How has COVID-19 affected the delivery of essential MENTAL health services in your health facility or country?'. Has COVID reduced the availability of services, or perhaps reduced demand for such services (perhaps due to fear of contagion)? Has the pandemic had an impact on the quality of services?

Q4. What has been the impact of health service disruptions on MENTAL health and wellbeing? Is there evidence of increased rates of common mental illnesses and/or suicide. To what extent are these due to COVID-19 and lockdown measures, as compared with inadequate access to mental health services?

Q5. What have you, your health facility or country done to maintain essential MENTAL health services? We have heeard on HIFA, for example, about the increased use of telehealth - but how effective is this as a means of providing psychiatric assessment and support? And what about vulnerable people who are relatively excluded from such services?

We look forward to hear from you! hifa@hifaforums.org

Komal Kapoor, Sanchika Gupta, Neil Pakenham-Walsh

Mental health subgroup of WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

https://www.hifa.org/projects/essential-health-services-and-covid-19

HIFA profile: Komal Kapoor is a recent graduate from the Christian Medical College, Vellore in BSc degree allied medical science course. Komal is currently a frontline covid health care worker in CMC Vellore. She is a HIFA Catalyst on the HIFA working group on Maintaining essential health services during COVID-19.

https://www.hifa.org/support/members/komal

https://www.hifa.org/projects/essential-health-services-and-covid-19

komalkapoor16.kk AT gmail.com

HIFA profile: Dr Sanchika Gupta is an Indian healthcare specialist with eight years of experience as both clinician and public health programmer. She explored wide breadth of public health realm viz. family planning/reproductive health, maternal, adolescent and child health during her association with national and international NGOs namely INCLEN, MAMTA, Jhpiego and Pathfinder International. She acquired technical expertise in advocacy, program management, research, monitoring and evaluation throughout her fieldwork in eight Indian states (Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh). She is the nominee of ‘120 under 40: the new generation of family planning leaders’ in 2019. In the recent years, she has been associated with HIFA through its Social Media Working Group and EHS-COVID19 project. In 2021, HIFA nominated her as Global Country Representative Coordinator. Currently, she is based in New Delhi, India and is available on email id sanchika12@gmail.com or Twitter @sanchika_gupta. https://www.hifa.org/support/members/sanchika

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org