Image credits: micheile .com on Unsplash
/
News Article

Mental Health Requires New Approach after COVID-19

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 04/05/2022 - 17:08

Since the start of the pandemic, mental health issues have increased fivefold, threatening the ability of current services to meet the needs of those struggling, found a study by the Belisario Domínguez Institute of the Senate of the Republic on the right to mental health after COVID-19. The report analyzes the impact of the pandemic on mental health and highlights the need to reassess and reorganize public mental health services to implement preventive actions.

According to the report, mental disorders were estimated to account for at least 18 percent of the global burden of disease in 2019. While exact information of post-pandemic global figures is still in the works, 28 percent of the Mexican population was found to suffer from post-traumatic stress symptoms in 2020, found a study published in The Lancet. Furthermore, the OECD found that the crisis increased the prevalence of depression nine times in early 2020 compared to 2019.

The study also found that Mexican women, those under the age of 35 and people with lower economic and educational levels reported higher rates of symptoms of impaired mental health. Moreover, the pandemic contributed to the relapse or aggravation of pre-existing mental health disorders.

Among health and frontline workers, who face more physical risks, the rates of depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia were much higher than those of the average population due to the job demands and social stigma.

To address these matters, the Ministry of Health released “The Response and Action Guidelines in Mental Health and Addictions for Psychosocial Support During The COVID-19 Pandemic in Mexico,” which includes a plan to address the mental health hurdles that arose from the pandemic. The document delineates key points of action that define the approach, support and concrete activities that are required from public care providers. It also states the activities required from the state and local Ministries of Health to train their staff to address mental health emergencies and provide community and pre-hospital mental healthcare, among other services.

The guidelines also stress the need to provide mental healthcare for medical personnel and first responders and urges for the continuous provision of care. They also consider the provision of psychological care to those who are recovering from COVID-19.

The study urges Mexico’s health system to reformulate its mental health approach to treat these issues in an integral, preventive way. A preventive medical model has been absent from the health system, according to the report. Thus, the country “requires the implementation of public policies that promote mental well-being, focusing both on the determinants of poor mental health aggravated by the pandemic and on interventions to treat people with a mental disorder.”

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst