The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened depression and anxiety around the world, and these conditions could rise in the coming months without increased investment in mental health services, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.
“Social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment,” he said in response to a policy brief on COVID-19 and mental health released on Thursday.
Reports already indicate an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety in a number of countries, the policy brief said.
It noted that a study in Ethiopia in April 2020 reported a three-fold increase in the prevalence of symptoms of depression compared to estimates before COVID-19.
The policy brief said mental teams, such as those in Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia and New Zealand, had reported increased emergency telephone calls by people with mental health problems amid the pandemic.