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COVID-19 has exacerbated the global mental health crisis, according to WHO survey

15 Oct 2020
The pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries worldwide, according to a new survey by the World Health organisation (WHO).

Conducted from June to August 2020, the survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services.

Experts say the pandemic is increasing demand for mental health services as bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones.

“Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and wellbeing,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

“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."

The 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.

The pandemic's growing strain on mental health presents a significant opportunity for wellness providers to offer their specialised services as a resource to help care for and support people’s mental wellbeing.

Spas and wellness providers could complement the services already on offer by national and international mental health programmes, and offer wellness programming or digital solutions specifically formulated to support mental wellness, using techniques which are scientifically-backed to support mental health, such as mindfulness, yoga, breathwork, time in nature and more.

Medical journal, The Lancet, recently argued that in order to minimise the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic it’s crucial that the world address the substantial unmet mental health needs of whole societies.

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