WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of millions of people, in terms of the anxiety and fear it has caused, and disruption to mental health services.

“For many people, the lack of social interaction caused by the pandemic has had a profound effect on their mental health,” Tedros said at a virtual press briefing from Geneva.

Noting that people in long-term facilities such as care homes and psychiatric institutions are at increased risk of infection, the WHO chief added that mental health professionals have themselves been infected with the virus, and some mental health facilities have been closed to be converted into treatment facilities for people with COVID-19.

He recalled that mental health was already “a neglected health issue” globally before the pandemic, with close to one billion people living with a mental disorder.

Yet relatively few people have access to quality mental health services. “In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 percent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all,” Tedros noted.

He declared that for this year’s World Mental Health Day, which falls on Oct. 10, the WHO, together with its partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, would call for a massive scale-up in investments in mental health.

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