WHO calls on world leaders to take urgent action ahead of World Mental Health Day

Global mental health care services are in dire need of more funding to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from the World Health Organisation.

The pandemic has had a devastating economic effect on the health care systems across the world.

WHO say the mental health sector is already massively underfunded and are campaigning for more investment.

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.”

The study surveyed 130 countries over three months during the pandemic and found more than 60 percent reported disruptions to the delivery of mental health care, with children and adolescents affected the most.

Pre COVID economic predictions calculated a global annual economic productivity loss of close to a trillion dollars because of the impact of depression and anxiety on society, according to WHO.

Despite this, less than 1 percent of the international aid for health care is allocated to mental health services, according to the UN agency.

WHO predicts that there will be a growing need for mental health care in the coming months.

Maya Salaam is a psychodynamic counsellor at The Maya Centre in London, she says: “The pandemic related lockdowns have had a huge mental impact. The tangible aspect of life was not there anymore. Being physically isolated from each other is not easy because we are social beings and the lockdowns prevented people from going to have a coffee with a friend for support.” 

But it is not only her clients who are suffering, she says the pandemic resulted in a massive increase in the workload at the centre increasing pressure on staff.

Salaam said: “Trainees are being asked to take more clients and there is burnout at work. Charities can’t cope, we need the government to help.”

World Mental Health Day will be marked with a virtual event online on October 10th to raise awareness and call for more funds.  

The Big Event For Mental Health is open to the public and free to join. 

It will feature world leaders, health experts and celebrities as well WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who will be discussing the best ways to cope with mental health issues. 

The event will also feature live music performances from international bands and a track from the late multi-award winning DJ Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii.

You can watch the three hour show on the official WHO Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok and YouTube pages. It starts at 3pm UK time.

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