25 per cent rise in mental health issues during first year of COVID-19: What the WHO report reveals

25 per cent rise in mental health issues during first year of COVID-19: What the WHO report reveals

25 per cent rise in mental health issues during first year of COVID-19: What the WHO report reveals

The World Health Organisation in a landmark report on Friday said nearly a billion people suffer from some form of mental disorder.

The report found that depression and anxiety rates saw a staggering over 25 per cent increase in year one of the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look at the survey:

Where was it conducted?

The WHO held the survey among 223 countries, territories or areas in the last quarter of 2021 to understand the quantum of this disruption in all general healthcare services, including mental care services.

In all, 129 countries responded to the survey. As many as 65 per cent of these countries reported one or the other impediment due to the disruptions in seeking mental healthcare even after two years of COVID-19.

What does the report reveal?

The report says that even after two years of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to disrupt essential health services and widen the treatment gap for mental and other health conditions.

The WHO said initial estimates show a jump to 246 million for major depressive disorders and 374 million for anxiety disorders. This represents a jump of 28 per cent in the former and 26 per cent in the latter.

As per New Indian Express, the report reveals that on average, countries dedicate less than two per cent of their healthcare budgets to mental health. As a result, just a small fraction of people in need get access to effective, affordable and quality mental health care.

Haves vs have nots

The report highlights unequal access to healthcare in rich and poor nations with seven in 10 people with psychosis receiving treatment in high-income nations compared to only 12 per cent in low-income countries.

With regard to depression, WHO identified an assistance gap in all countries – only a third of people who suffer from depression receive formal mental health care.

Representational image.

High-income countries offer “minimally-adequate” treatment for depression in 23 per cent of cases, this drops to just three per cent in low and lower middle-income countries.

Schizophrenia, which occurs in approximately 1 in 200 adults, is a primary concern: in its acute state, is the most impairing of all health conditions.

Besides affecting the quality of life, mental health conditions also have "enormous" economic consequences, with productivity losses significantly outstripping the direct costs of care, the report said.

‘End stigma’

The report also called to end stigma, discrimination and human rights violations against people with mental health conditions, with 20 countries still criminalising attempted suicide.

It noted that globally, there may be 20 suicide attempts to every one death, and yet suicide accounts for more than one in every 100 deaths. It is a major cause of death among young people.

Mental disorders are also the leading cause of years lived with disability (YLDs), accounting for one in every six YLDs globally.

As per Down To Earth, the WHO’s report lists three key ‘paths to transformation’ to quicken progress on the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030.

These include more focussed investment in mental health, reshaping environments such as homes, communities, schools, workplaces and health care services that influence mental health and strengthening the quality of mental health care by diversifying it.

Need to transform attitudes’

The report urged mental health decision-makers and advocates to step up commitment and action to change attitudes, actions and approaches to mental health, its determinants and mental health care.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: ANI

“We need to transform our attitudes, actions and approaches to promote and protect mental health, and to provide and care for those in need,” said WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We can and should do this by transforming the environments that influence our mental health and by developing community-based mental health services capable of achieving universal health coverage for mental health.

“Everyone’s life touches someone with a mental health condition,”  WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Good mental health translates to good physical health and this new report makes a compelling case for change.

“The inextricable links between mental health and public health, human rights and socioeconomic development mean that transforming policy and practice in mental health can deliver real, substantive benefits for individuals, communities and countries everywhere. Investment into mental health is an investment into a better life and future for all.”

With inputs from agencies

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