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WHO Urges Countries To Focus On Public Mental Health During Lockdown

With the COVID-19 pandemic still aggravating, affecting lives and livelihoods. Also, causing fear and anxiety among people, the World Health Organization recently called upon countries in the South-East Asia Region to pay increased attention to mental health and preventing suicide.

People Feel More Isolated Than Usual

Social stigma related to COVID-19 infection may also lead to people feeling isolated and depressed, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, stated.

She asserted another significant factor affecting the mental health amid pandemic could be domestic violence. This is reported to have increased during the lockdowns imposed by almost every country in the region to slow the spread contact of the virus.

Livelihood Being Impacted

Impacting lives and livelihoods, the pandemic is causing fear, anxiety, depression and stress among people. It also stated social distancing, isolation and coping with perpetually evolving and changing information about the virus has both unleashed and increased existing and pre-existing mental health conditions which need urgent attention, she said.

Early diagnosis of mental health conditions, recognition of suicidal behaviours and proper management through a multi-sectoral approach is important. Althoough as we continue to focus on controlling the further spread of the pandemic, she asserted.

Singh said suicide engulfs almost 8,00,000 lives every year globally. Also, is the cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years.

Evidence suggest that for every adult who dies of suicide, there are more than about 20 people attempting suicide, the WHO Regional Director stated.

The WHO South-East Asia Region accounts for about 39 per cent of global suicide mortality, she continued.

A Serious Health Problem

Although preventable, suicide is a serious public health problem. Survivors of suicide attempts and their family often face stigma and discrimination in many forms. The impact of suicide on families, friends and communities is devastating and far-reaching, Singh noted.

In these challenging times, we must work towards providing a comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings, as outlined in the WHO South-East Asia Region’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, she said.

As individual vulnerabilities and socio-cultural factors differ between and within populations, the Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy guides countries on strategising and planning for suicide prevention through a multi-sectoral public health approach, she added.

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