UN leads call to protect most vulnerable from mental health crisis during and after COVID-19

Launching the UN policy brief – COVID-19 and The Need for Action On Mental Health – Mr. Guterres highlighted how psychological problems such as depression and anxiety “are some of the greatest causes of misery in our world”.

According to the UN guidelines, depression and anxiety before the COVID-19 pandemic cost the global economy more than $ 1 trillion per year.

“During the COVID-19 emergency, people are afraid of infection, dying, and losing family members”, the UN recommendations explain. “At the same time, vast numbers of people have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods, have been socially isolated and separated from loved ones, and, in some countries, have experienced stay-at-home orders implemented in drastic ways.”

In this sense, the BBHI is focusing on a study on mental health aspects during the pandemic. 


Increasing vulnerability

National data from populations around the world would appear to confirm this increased mental vulnerability, WHO’s Dévora Kestel said, citing surveys “showing an increase of prevalence of distress of 35 per cent of the population surveyed in China, 60 per cent in Iran, and 45 per cent in the US”.

Neurological conditions and brain health

General symptoms caused by COVID-19 include headaches, impaired sense of smell and taste, agitation, delirium and stroke, according to the UN paper.

Underlying neurological conditions also increase the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19, it notes, while stress, social isolation and violence in the family are likely to affect brain health and development in young children and adolescents.

Social isolation, reduced physical activity and reduced intellectual stimulation increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults, it adds.


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