WHO report "Mental Health Atlas" against the backdrop of a pandemic

The World Health Organization has recognized the mental health situation in the world as a “global failure”.

WHO considers government efforts to develop mental health services to be completely inadequate and calls for increased investment in this area, according to a report from the Atlas of Mental Health.

Research by WHO experts has shown conclusively that, even with a significant increase in attention to mental health in recent years, this has not led to an improvement in the quality of competent services. Analysts called the situation “a disappointing picture of global failure.”

In the course of a large-scale study, 51% of countries assured that their programs and plans meet all international and regional human rights standards. Only 34% of states claim to allocate the necessary financial resources for the mental health of the population. Only 39% speak about providing institutions with specialists. That is, the criteria recommended by WHO for the integration of mental health services into the primary care system are implemented in only 25% of countries.

However, the World Health Organization also notes positive points. For example, the number of specialists working in the field of mental health increased from 2014 to 2020 to 13 per hundred thousand of the population (previously it was 9). True, this is an average indicator that has characteristics in different countries – in the rich the number of workers in the field of mental health is 40 times higher than in the poor, reports TASS.

Tedros Adanom Ghebreyesus, head of WHO, notes that the need for mental health services has increased during the pandemic, but is not being implemented with concrete actions:

“Good intentions are not accompanied by investment.”

He called on the world community to increase investments in this area. The pandemic has led to deterioration in mental status and behavior in 78% of patients with related diseases. At the same time, caregivers of older persons with dementia experienced a 64% increase in physical and psychological burden.

As noted in the report of the neurologist-psychiatrist Paraskevi Sakka, President of the Athens Society of Εταιρείας Alzheimer Αθηνών, the pandemic has significantly worsened the situation of older people, including those in social structures and institutions in many countries. She adds:

“Older people, especially people with dementia, are extremely vulnerable during a pandemic and are at particularly high risk of illness and increased mortality.”

In addition, “people with memory problems and dementia are not able to understand and apply hygiene measures, protect themselves from the virus, observe social distancing, wear masks, systematically wash their hands due to mental problems,” the expert explains, and this increases the risk of infection …

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