The United Nations warned against a looming global mental health crisis and psychological suffering emerging out of COVID-19 pandemic. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to urgently come together to address the mental health dimension of the pandemic.
Launching the UN policy brief, COVID-19 and the Need for Action On Mental Health, the UN chief said that frontline healthcare workers, older people, adolescents and young people, those with pre-existing mental health conditions and those caught up in conflict and crisis are at most risk of mental stress.
“Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities,” highlighted Guterres.
The top UN official emphasised that mental health services are an essential part of all government responses to COVID-19 and they must be expanded and fully funded. He called for policies that support and care for those affected by mental health conditions, and protect their human rights and dignity.
“Lockdowns and quarantines must not discriminate against those with poor mental health,” said Guterres.
Devora Kestel, director of WHO’s mental health department, also echoed the call of the UN chief saying the mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis. She emphasised on the need to make sure that measures are there to protect and promote and care for the existing situation.
Earlier, the US chief had appealed to religious leaders to put differences aside and translate common values into action to help reverse the pandemic and aid recovery. Guterres said that the shared vulnerability to the coronavirus pandemic reveals “common humanity” and it is our responsibility to promote solidarity as the foundation of our response.
The top UN official noted how spiritual leadership had been a positive influence during earlier public health crises including HIV/AIDS and Ebola. Highlighting pivotal ways to help reverse the pandemic, the UN chief asked the religious leaders to “actively challenge inaccurate and harmful messages”.