United Nations health experts warned Thursday that a mental illness crisis is looming, because millions of people all over the world feel fear of death, poverty, anxiety from the Coronavirus and being forced into isolation.
Divora Kestel, director of the mental health department at the World Health Organization, said isolation, fear, uncertainty and economic turmoil are all causing psychological problems.
In the UN report and policy directives on Corona and mental health, Kestel emphasized that a significant increase in the number of people suffering from mental illness is likely, and governments should put this issue at the forefront of their response to the virus.
“The mental health and well-being of entire communities has been severely affected by this crisis and it is a priority that must be addressed urgently.”
Coinciding with the increase in the number of people suffering from mental health problems, the suicide rate increased due to the psychological state of the people or their addiction to certain types of drugs due to their fear and anxiety, according to Kestel.
The report also highlighted many areas and divisions in societies as vulnerable to mental disorder including children and youth separated from friends and school, and health-care workers who see thousands of patients with the new coronavirus die.
Studies and surveys are already showing the effect of Covid-19 on mental health worldwide. Psychologists affirmed that children are concerned and there is an increase in depression and anxiety in many countries, as domestic violence increases, indicating the increasing need for health workers for psychological support.
A number of doctors and nurses reported in an interview with Reuters that they and their colleagues suffered from a combination of panic, anxiety, sadness, numbness, insomnia and nightmares.
Outside the health sector, the World Health Organization report said that many people are distressed by the direct health effects and consequences of physical isolation, while others fear infection, death and loss of family members.
The report pointed out that millions face economic turmoil, whether those who have lost, or are at risk of losing, their income and livelihoods, and that the abundance of misinformation and rumors about the epidemic and deep uncertainty about how long it will continue make people feel anxious and desperate about the future.
The report called for the necessity of providing an “emergency mental health” service through remote treatments such as remote consulting for health workers on the front lines, and to work proactively with people known to be suffering from depression and anxiety.