What does the future look like for mental health in the next 2-3 years?

Impact of Covid-19 on mental health progress

Just when mental health was being given the attention it needed by society, the pandemic hit us. As it stands now, social distancing norms and isolation are here to stay for a good year or so. This is a very important juncture for us as a society, we’ve made good large strides when it comes to mental health and treating it. If sufficient steps aren’t taken the pandemic might wipe out several years of progress, something humanity cannot afford. Virtual therapy sessions, technology and self-help tools will be key in the fight against the next big pandemic.

For those living in poverty, access to mental healthcare is no less than a luxury

Young adults and adolescents are at risk

Binge eating, long hours of screen time, disturbed sleep patterns, mood swings, stress anxiety especially amongst adolescents and young adults can be catastrophic to mental health. Reports suggest that there has been an increase in phone calls made to helplines by young adults who claim to be stressed and anxious. An increase in alcohol sales along with consumption of alcohol indoors also has been reported and so have cases of domestic violence. Adolescents who are refugees or stay in humanitarian settlements might find it even more difficult to cope with the scenario. Given the lack of access to healthcare and scarcity of medical infrastructure, mental health certainly takes a backseat.

Poverty and disproportionate allocation of resources

For those living in poverty, access to mental healthcare is no less than a luxury. They’re the hardest hit when it comes to the pandemic and are more susceptible to fall mentally ill as a result of their dire circumstances. Unemployment, wage cuts don’t help their cause either. Marginalized communities of society will have a tough time accessing mental healthcare even before the pandemic will be severely affected as resources will continue to be mobilized in response to fighting Covid-19.

A lot can be done, we all need to come together for better mental health.

The problem of mental health has persisted between us for years, more so now than ever. It has been an underlying epidemic, gone unnoticed and untreated for decades or rather centuries. Mental health has been hiding behind the walls of stigma and discrimination for too long now. Its prolonged effects on society in terms of disability are severe. However, over the last few years, the world has become increasingly aware of mental illness.

We as a society need to come together and invest in mental health for a better future. Investment both in terms of financial and human resources. Governments need to spend more of their healthcare budgets on mental health by setting up the required infrastructure, training professionals, and promoting mental health.

Governments also need to do much when it comes to the removal of barriers to access proper mental healthcare. Stigma, lack of medications, lack of insurance cover, lack of mental health policies are just some of the many barriers that governments need to address soon.

For the betterment of its people, governments need to frame public health policies, come up with plans, and develop initiatives that will make mental healthcare an essential part of its public health system. It’s not just governments that need to invest but communities, international organizations, trusts/foundations, and even businesses.

In countries where there isn’t adequate spending or allotment of budgets for mental health, the situation will continue to be dire. Poor provision of mental health care and inadequate resources to help people fight mental illnesses can hamper the country’s progress.

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