WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said mental health should be seen as a “fundamental human right”.
Mental health. Photo credit: Tech2 / Abigail Banerji
The mental health impact of the pandemic will be “long-term and far-reaching,” the World Health Organization said Thursday as experts and executives at Covid called for action against related anxiety and stress.
“Everyone is affected in one way or another,” WHO said in a statement at the start of a two-day meeting in Athens with health ministers from dozens of countries.
He said that “concerns about virus transmission, the psychological effects of blockades and self-isolation” had contributed to a mental crisis, as well as stress related to unemployment, financial worries and poverty.
“The mental health effects of the pandemic will be long-term and far-reaching,” the statement said.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said mental health should be viewed as a “basic human right”, highlighting how the virus tore apart lives.
“The pandemic has shaken the world,” he said at the conference.
“Worldwide, more than four million people have died, livelihoods have been ruined, families and communities have been separated, companies fail and people are deprived of their opportunities. “
The WHO called for mental health services in general to be strengthened and access to care through technology improved.
He also called for better psychological support services in schools, universities, workplaces and for those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 .
Ministers heard from a 38-year-old Greek woman named Katerina who told them how she had been under treatment for a psychiatric illness since 2002 and how she was doing well until the pandemic broke out.
She could no longer attend support groups and see her father, which forced her to intensify her treatment.
“The pressures of social isolation have increased fear,” she said.
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