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Covid-19 and Mental Health: “Healthcare Needs a Complete Rethink”




  • The Covid-19 pandemic is negatively impacting mental health around the world
  • Studies show that Covid-19 itself can lead to mental illness, including mood disorders such as depression
  • Data show a lack of data for low-income countries, but suicide rates have not changed during this period.

“Trauma, a term we use very often in the context of mental health, can take many forms. It is extreme fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and helplessness in our minds. , And is characterized by the toxic effects of sorrow. In this sense, trauma is widespread in India and many other countries, “said Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health and Persing Square Global Health at Harvard University School of Medicine. Stated.

Patel spoke at Covid-19 and a virtual webinar on mental health. British Medical Journal (BMJ) Last week.

He believes that an increase in the prevalence of mental health distress inevitably contributes to an increase in clinically significant mental illness.

“The cool fact is that the mental health care systems of most countries have barely met the needs that existed even before the pandemic,” he said. “To make a difference in this opportunity, we need to completely rethink healthcare.”

Researchers at the panel discussed several aspects of research on mental health during a pandemic, including anxiety, depression, suicide, and self-harm.

Covid Survivors Develop Mental Illness

Paul Harrison and colleagues from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, used electronic health records of 62,000 Covid-19 patients to assess whether the illness was associated with mental illness.

According to their study, this is primarily based on the US population, BMJAbout 1 in 5 patients received a psychiatric diagnosis 3 months after Covid infection.

“This shows an increase in the general mental health status seen in patients who have recovered from the infection,” Harrison said.

Second study by the same author

More Recently published study In a longer follow-up, Harrison and his colleagues evaluated the record of more than 236,000 Covid-19 survivors.

They found that in patients with no past record of mental illness, one in eight had such a diagnosis, and anxiety and depression disorders were the most common. This means that a pandemic can lead to a wave of mental and problematic needs, and that a large number of people who may be living with these symptoms need to have access to mental health services. Suggests.

In addition, Max Take, a psychiatrist at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, who co-led the study, told Reuters:

However, Harrison warned that it is not yet clear if these results can be generalized to other populations. Researchers also need to assess what happens more than six months after infection, he added.

what is the reason?

According to 18-month-old researcher Professor Hamish McCaulejye PHOSP-COVID According to a study led by the University of Leicester, ongoing inflammation appears to affect the mental health and physical symptoms of patients who have recovered from Covid infection.

A UK-wide study recruited 10,000 patients to understand the impact of Covid’s disease on their health and recovery.

Research Was published in New England Journal of Medicine We examined the brain tissue of people who died of Covid and found a combination of inflammation and leakage of blood vessels in the brain. The virus is also known to invade the central nervous system, Health24 reported, Can cause serious mental illness.

And, in Patel’s words, “there is also the trauma of those who had the Covid infection itself-that is, they are out of breath and ventilated,” which needs to be investigated.

Has the suicide rate increased?

The panel also had Dr. Praveetha Patalay, an associate professor based throughout the Longitudinal Research Center. His research focuses on whether UK mental health deteriorated during the pandemic.

The findings show that there is very complex evidence not only in the United Kingdom but also in other countries.

Dr. Duleeka Knipe of the University of Bristol said: [it] About mental health, especially suicide. I saw media reports almost every day that pandemics and lockdowns were having a negative impact on the rise in suicide and self-harm. There was considerable uncertainty in these stories. “

These concerns were raised by risk factors such as social isolation caused by physical distance. The stress experienced by frontline workers. Increased domestic violence and alcohol misuse. And the impact of the recession.

“There is reason to believe that suicide may increase during a pandemic. [and] Knowing what’s happening in terms of suicide rates is a priority, “says Knipe. However, a large collaborative study of the study showed that suicide rates and hospitalizations for suicide attempts or self-harm remained little or even lower during this period, she added.

Data limited to a specific group

It is worth noting that these studies are primarily based on data from high and middle income countries. “It makes up 20% of the world’s population, and due to the lack of data, the situation we have is very narrow. The world’s largest burden of suicide is in parts of the world. Is missing, “Knipe said.

The full impact of this pandemic is not yet known, so researchers need to keep an eye on the situation to see if it has long-term consequences, Knipe added.

Early in the webinar, Patel said: “What I’m really worried about is the impact of this pandemic on the spread of inequality. This toxic combination of absolute poverty and inequality, and a similar surge in depth of despair in parts of the world. I believe it is the perfect storm for you.

“The pandemic reminded us of structural inequality in all countries, which also has an imbalanced impact on mental health, especially for women, adolescents, low-income groups, and people with pre-existing mental illness. be connected.”

What existing SA data shows

A 2020 South African study examining the effects of a pandemic on Soweto’s individual groups found that 14.5% of the participants in the study were at risk of depression, and 20% were deeply worried and anxious about the pandemic. Indicates that it has caused. Or led them to “think too much” about the virus and its effects. Health24 reported..

Another study by Dr. Adeora Oyenubi, senior lecturer in Witt’s Faculty of Economics and Finance, and Uma Koranpalamville, principal of Witt’s School of Economics and Finance, found that the prevalence of depressive symptoms was from 2017 to June 2020. It was shown to have doubled in the meantime.

The authors found that the negative effects of a pandemic had a disproportionate impact on income and health vulnerable groups, and policy makers became chronic and protracted if not addressed.

SA Part of Global Mental Health Research

Previously reported Health24 The ongoing Joint Achievement Study on Infectious Health and Function (COH-FIT) measures the impact of pandemics on the physical and mental health of people around the world. This is the largest global study of its kind, led by Professor Soraya Seedat and Dr. Georgia Spies, researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Spies told Health24 that 30 months after the outbreak of SARS 2003, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was the most common long-term mental state, followed by depressive disorder. It was.

The spy told Health24 that South African data from the COH-FIT study will be available in the coming months.

If you feel uneasy or depressed and need help, you can contact SADAG at the 24-hour helpline 0800 456789.

For suicide emergencies, dial 0800 567 567.

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Read | Opinion | The mental health effects of Covid-19 are as important as the physical effects.

Read | SA is involved in a large global study of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic-and you can play your part

Read | Covid-19 Pandemic, Mental Health Impact of Lockdown-and Concerns about Suicide Risk

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