It is expected that the need for mental health services and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Investment in mental health programmes at national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.
Globally, depressive disorders are ranked as the single largest contributor to non-fatal health loss. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally in 2015. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of 31% in women and 19 % in men. The estimated annual costs of treating anxiety and its indirect costs, such a reduce work productivity is around $44 billion, this is equivalent to 22% spent on any DSM 5 disorder.
In our youth the global burden of disease in adolescents and young adults reported a step increase in burden of disease of 2.5 times from the 10 to 14 year age bracket to the age group 19 to 24 years and mental disorders have also been reported as the number one cause of ill health in YP aged 15 to 25 years. Mental disorders in young people, are often persistent and have the capacity to ‘inflict tremendous morbidity, mortality, and impairment’. In both reports severe mental disorders, are referred to as ‘the chronic disease of the younger’.
Our daily lives have changed considerably. 2020 has brought many challenges. Healthcare workers struggle to cope with providing care in difficult environments, workers afraid for their families, and employers afraid for their businesses and employees; students having major disruptions and having to adapt to a whole new way of learning with little contact with their teachers and friends. People are anxious about their futures, and some are caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings.
People with mental health conditions may have experienced greater social isolation than before, and may have suffered deterioration. The place where they usually access care may have changed the way it operates. This can be confusing, and sometime slow down the process of getting help.
Families have suffered losses. Some families are having to manage grief, without even being able to say goodbye.
The Maltese Association of Psychiatry urges government to actively invest in mental health. Focus on resources for community services including early intervention, especially for adolescents and youth; assertive outreach and home treatment services for ALL. It is through investment that the individual and population health and wellbeing is enhanced. Through investing that we can reduce social inequalities, protect human rights and improve economic efficiency.