What is the Covid-19 fallout on mental health like?

In recent history, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented.  Not only has it led to an economic fallout of world war 2 proportions but has  also had a negative impact on mental health. The present scenario that carries a high degree of uncertainty can be overwhelming, stressful, and lead to the onset of mental health conditions. To make matters, social distancing has been a necessary imperative during the pandemic, but it has also exacerbated feelings of loneliness and isolation.  

According to an article by WHO, The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and mental health challenges have increased exponentially.

 A new WHO survey highlights that this disruption has occurred despite the increasing demand for mental health services. The survey on 130 is the first of its kind that depicts that catastrophic impact on COVID-10 on access to mental health services. 

There is a need for players across the mental health landscape to innovate so that the mental health needs of people around the globe are better. Such an endeavour would help overall healthcare outcomes; create a healthier, productive, and happier workforce.

Changing healthcare landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated pace of technological adoption, and a digital first approach for empowered customers has led to opportunities across sectors. In many ways, the crisis induced by the pandemic shall help create a new future for mental health. Some of these are as follows:

  • Insurers that use the power of analytics, accessible at a click, to build better relationships with members. They would thus be able implement preventive interventions to assess behavioural health needs.
  • Health care providers can use innovative technologies like medical holography, AI, cloud computing, and cutting edge telemedicine approaches to offer their patients the best personalized care.
  •  Once the stigma surrounding mental health is handled, employers can leverage varied mental health support approaches to their employees. In the long-run this will create a healthier working environment and improve performance and retention.
  • Collaborations between industry players in healthcare to share regulatory and ethical frameworks that focus on cutting-edge behavioural health technology.

Stakeholders in the mental health ecosystem can capitalize on these opportunities and trends to circumvent many mental health challenges.  A collaboration between stakeholders in the mental health ecosystem is the need of the hour. This will help not only businesses but build more resilient communities across the world, in the long-run.

Better outcomes

There are significant disparities in countries that adopted telemedicine to overcome healthcare disruptions. High-income countries were better equipped to deploy telemedicine services and 80 % used these services to overcome mental-health gaps, Whereas less than 50% of low-income countries used telemedicines to bridge service gaps.

On its part, WHO has issued guidelines on maintaining essential services, which includes mental health services, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on its recommendations, countries ought to allocate resources to mental health as a part of their recovery and response strategies. 

In the survey, 89 % of countries responded that psychosocial support and mental health is part of their response plans during the pandemic. However, a mere 17 % of the nations surveyed have additional funding to carry out these activities, which is alarming.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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