The COVID-19 pandemic and mental health

COVID-19 Effects on Mental Health

The pandemic has spread at an alarming rate and has caused many disruptions worldwide. Some experts have expressed great concern for the impact Covid-19 – lockdowns, social-distancing measures and socio-economic adversity – will have on our overall mental health.

Dr Konstantinos Petsanis, a Greek Neurologist based in Switzerland who specializes in general cognitive disorders and dementia, has observed several mental health warning signs that have manifested during the pandemic.

In Switzerland, the first Covid-19 case was identified late in February. A month later, the total number skyrocketed to approximately 9000 cases. Switzerland has managed to handle the pandemic well. The most recent WHO numbers indicate 50 new cases per day, and a total of almost 30,000 confirmed cases. Despite the contained number of cases, Dr Petsanis warns that health-care workers on the frontlines face their own set of unique stressors that may impact their mental health. He added that countries are now facing additional stress of prolonged periods of economic instability.

Time Magazine recently published an Opinion piece where UN secretary General Antonio Gueterres, mentions the cumulative impact of anxiety, stress, and grief. “Unless we act now to address the mental health needs associated with the pandemic, there will be enormous long-term consequences for families, communities and societies.”

The UN had previously urged for governments around the world to take mental health consequences more seriously, and ensure widespread availability of mental health support.

Dr Petsanis expresses hope for change, and would like to see more investments in health care and in health care facilities to reduce overall stress and panic; compounding factors that exacerbate mental health conditions over time. In light of the current pandemic, governments must promote community-based services to raise mental health awareness and protect the psychosocial well-being of adults and children.