How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Original author: Moreno C, Wykes T, et al. (2020) (DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30307-2)
January 10, 2023
As the world went from having the busiest streets to empty ones, lives were changed all around in 2020. The coronavirus or Covid-19 more formally known as SARS-CoV-2 was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Shortly after it was declared an epidemic in many countries and a global pandemic by March 2020. The global population was too busy to notice that the lives they lived were too fast-paced and when the government put containment measures like lockdowns and curfews, the world stopped for a few months.
While people lost jobs, contracted the virus, saw loved ones pass away, etc, the sheer fear of the unknown created ample space for mental health issues. The pandemic and its lockdown along with physical distancing led to a social void in many lives. The researchers call the coronavirus a neurotropic disease, signifying that the virus tended to attack one’s nervous system preferentially.
The hard times faced by people were noticed across the globe by each country which pushed an international group of mental health experts to discuss and plan treatments and better methods of mental healthcare for the future.
The first step toward a conclusion was to sieve the problems that were faced by different groups of people. They were categorized as: the general public, people who had/have Covid-19, people with pre-existing mental health conditions, and most importantly, healthcare workers. Some major problems dealt with by these groups were depression, anxiety, and the worsening of pre-existing mental health disorders such as OCD symptoms and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The researchers also discussed the services that were already being provided during the pandemic. Mental healthcare was not new but it was yet to completely settle down in a fast-paced society like ours. Services tried to adapt to new environments and upgraded their methods of treatment as well.
Experts came up with sustainable adaptations of mental health delivery which included everything from inclusion and remote therapy to newer and more efficient methods of treatment. Researchers also came up with blueprints for mental healthcare in collaboration with clinical treatment in communities.
As the world braces itself for another possible wave of Covid-19 in 2023, mental healthcare systems have grown a lot in the last 2.5 years. From, free healthcare to reassuring content online, the world has come a long way. We have grown to understand not only each other but ourselves better in the years spent social distancing. Old methods of mental healthcare should be refined and renewed and innovations for new systems should continue. After years of stigma, mental health is finally a topic all generations now understand. The pandemic, as tragic as it was, did bring the world together, somehow.