World Mental Health Day 2022: Need for collective efforts to meet challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic

Bhubaneswar: The pandemic has its impact on mental health of people across the globe. In this scenario, the World Mental Health Day 2022 provides us an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to improve mental healthcare facilities for our people.

As per the available data, one in every eight people in the world was living with mental disorder before the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the facilities, skills and funding available for mental health remain inadequate across the globe. The situation is no different in India.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health. The pandemic has both short-term and long-term impact on mental health of millions of people.

Studies have revealed more than 25 per cent rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders among people during the first year of the pandemic. On the other hand, mental health services have been severely disrupted throughout the world.

Growing social and economic inequalities, protracted conflicts, violence and public health emergencies have threatened the wellbeing of people across the globe. A staggering 84 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced during 2021.

So, it is important to strengthen mental healthcare through a community-based network of accessible, affordable and quality services and supports.

Social stigma and discrimination are the main barriers on the way to access proper healthcare for mental ailments. We all can play our part in increasing awareness about mental ailments and their treatment. The World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to work together for this purpose.

On World Mental Health Day 2022, Swasthya Sambad had an exclusive conversation with renowned Psychiatrist Dr. Amrit Pattojoshi, who has played a pivotal role in improving the mental health and well-being of thousands of patients.

“People started living in isolation during the pandemic. Many people lost their family members and relatives to the deadly virus. People were living under fear of contracting the virus infection. There was no social gathering and public celebration of festivals. Many people were under stress and depression. The deaths of thousands of people due to the virus infection also badly affected the mental health of millions. Many of us could not sleep properly. Some people started consuming alcohol, sleeping pills and other drugs to get relief from stress,” Pattojoshi said.

In some areas, domestic violence increased exponentially. People were forced to live inside their houses. Some of them started venting their anger on their spouses. Children could not go to schools and play with their friends. Thousands lost their jobs while many others had to accept pay cuts, he added.

“Let’s consider the case of hotel industry. Nobody went to hotels. Many people associated with the hotel industry lost their jobs. There was severe decrease in people earnings but their expenditure did not go down. So, they started spending money from their savings. Many of us suffered from stress and depression due to our financial difficulties,” Pattojoshi said.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is ‘Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority’. This is an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the governments, to come together to ensure better mental healthcare for people across the globe, he added.

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