“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.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO)
Since 1992, the World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health. Given past experience of emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.
Every year one adult in four, along with one child in ten, will have a mental health issue. These conditions can profoundly affect literally millions of lives, affecting the capability of these individuals to make it through the day, to sustain relationships, and to maintain work. The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably in the past few months. Also, COVID-19 set to cause mental health crisis and the virus has disrupted 93% of critical mental health services.
The health-care workers are providing care in difficult circumstances, and going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them. Whereas, students and young people are adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures. Meanwhile, workers whose livelihoods are threatened and a vast number of people are caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19. Due to the health, economic, and social issues, millions of people are facing mental health issues, and many of them are experiencing even greater social isolation than before.
Mental health problems are usually defined and classified to enable professionals to refer people for appropriate care and treatment. But some diagnoses are controversial and there is much concern in the mental health field that people are too often treated according to or described by their label. This can have a profound effect on their quality of life. Nevertheless, diagnoses remain the most usual way of dividing and classifying symptoms into groups.
This year, the World Health Organisation’s goal for the World Mental Health Day is to increase investment in mental health. This day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), will continue to raise awareness on mental health issues, as it is a human right. Each of us can make a contribution to ensure that people dealing with problems concerning mental health can live better lives with dignity. Let us all take part to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.
All stakeholders, youth inclusive, should ensure that investment in mental health is prioritised. We also call to action in highlighting the need for greater investment in mental health particularly during this global health emergency and thereafter. Everyone should have access to quality mental health services, and mental health needs to be prioritised now more than ever!