The coronavirus pandemic is likely to have a “profound and pervasive have an effect on” on global mental health as billions struggle to deal with lonely living and anxiety spikes, experts warned Thursday.
In a paper published in Lancet Psychiatry, a panel of 24 specialists call for more underwriting for research into the impacts COVID-19 may have on society’s mental well-being.
Two accompanying surveys of the British public showed that most of the people questioned had experienced heightened anxiety and fear of changing into mentally unwell since the pandemic struck.
“We are all dealing with unprecedented uncertainty and major changes to the way we are living our lives because of coronavirus,” said lead writer Emily Holmes from Uppsala University’s branch of psychology.
“Our surveys show these changes are already having a appreciable have an effect on on our mental health.”
The authors called for real-time monitoring of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide across the world, in addition to the creation of remedy programmes that may be accessed remotely.
“This must be on a bigger scale than we have ever seen in the past, and will have to be coordinated, targeted and comprehensive,” said Matthew Hotopf, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.
“Above all, we need to stress that every one new interventions will have to be informed by top notch research to verify they work.”
Studies into the mental health have an effect on of preceding disease outbreaks, such as the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s, showed a lucid increase in suicide rates and the number of health care workers who experience emotional misery.
But the have an effect on of the COVID-19 epidemic is unprecedented, with billions of people forced to isolate at home and no end in sight even after social distancing measures are eased.
– ‘Perfect mental health storm’ –
The surveys, conducted among more than 3,000 people in Britain, showed a variety of fears arising from the pandemic.
These include increased anxiety, the effects of social isolation, the fear of changing into mentally unwell and accessing care whether needed.
The experts cautioned that these symptoms were likely to continue timed in to the future, even after the current round of lockdowns are eased.
The authors called for government underwriting to set up specialised working groups comprised of people with experience of mental health impacts to verify research and remedy are prioritised.
“Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and wellbeing,” said Rory O’Connor, professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow.
He said that a lack of intervention risked an explosion of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, in addition to a rise in alcohol and drug addiction.
“The scale of this problem is too serious to disregard, both on the subject of each and every human life that can be affected, and on the subject of the wider have an effect on on society.”
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed. )
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