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The pandemic is affecting mental health | HT Editorial – Editorials


History has shown the enormous cost that pandemics have on governments, health care systems, economies, organizations, and people. But there is also a huge, but often invisible, cost to mental health. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens in much of the world are locked up, their lives have been cut short, their livelihoods are injured or even destroyed, and they look to an uncertain future for themselves and their loved ones. As expected, this has caused anxiety, fear, stress and trauma.

Recognizing this, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke Wednesday of the need for governments to urgently address mental health care needs and asked them to include mental health as part of their political response to the pandemic. The immediate challenge for each country, of course, is to flatten the infection curve, prepare health systems, and revive the economy. But the mental health crisis will continue beyond the pandemic, and people in all classes and communities will need help. Despite a strong law in force, India ranks poorly in terms of mental health awareness and treatment. Fighting social stigma on the one hand and lack of professional interventions on the other (India’s psychiatrist / patient ratio is a lousy 1: 100,000) has an uphill battle. The government must formulate an empathetic response to provide aid to affected people; Organizations, communities and families must come together to offer solidarity and support; and medical professionals must find innovative ways to offer care and therapy in a time of social estrangement.

Hindustan Times