Democracy Works Foundation joins the global community in observing World Mental Health Day.
World Mental Health Day brings a great opportunity to highlight and think about mental health education, consciousness, and encouragement against the social stigma, more especially in the time of COVID-19, where democracies across the globe have had to deal with challenges that arose because of the pandemic.
The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a great deal of panic, uncertainty, urgent adjustments to the “new normal” and in dealing with the virus, measures such as lockdown and isolation were imposed across the globe.
This had a direct impact on the mental state of civilians across the globe, which was further reinforced when the economic impact of lockdown restrictions led to many businesses closing down or downsizing, leading to a loss of jobs for many, directly impacting the quality of life for all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the effects of inequality on health outcomes and no nation, however rich, has been fully prepared for this. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. And services for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders have been significantly disrupted.
The pandemic has and will continue to affect people, of all ages, in many ways: through infection and illness, sometimes resulting in death bringing bereavement to surviving family members; through the economic impact, with job losses and continued job insecurity; and with the physical distancing that can lead to social isolation. In all these instances our mental health is directly impacted as we try to manage these unforeseen times.
As a global community, we have had a tough couple of years with many parts affected more than others, we cannot afford to neglect our mental health as we deal with the developments of the pandemic more especially in sub-Saharan Africa given the weak health care systems.
Mental health and psychosocial support services need to be integrated into the pandemic response and coordinated globally. It is critical for these services to continue during and after the epidemic.
In observing World Mental Health Day, let us normalize conversations around mental health awareness because we are all affected by it.