New Delhi: A senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the global Covid-19 pandemic has hit the lives and livelihoods of the people, besides causing fear and depression in them.
“Besides hitting lives and livelihoods, the pandemic is causing fear, anxiety, depression and stress among the people. Social distancing, isolation and coping with perpetually evolving and changing information about the virus have both triggered and aggravated the existing and pre-existing mental health conditions, which need urgent attention,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO, South-East Asia Region.
According to a statement issued by the WHO, the South-East Asia region accounts for 39 per cent of the global suicide mortality figures.
Singh emphasised that as the Covid-19 pandemic is still accelerating and impacting people in multiple ways, it is essential for countries in the South-East Asia region to pay greater attention to mental health and suicide prevention.
Citing WHO South-East Asia Region’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, Singh said that it is important to work towards providing comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social-care services in community-based settings.
She insisted that the stigma associated with Covid-19 may also lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Citing the issue of domestic violence during the pandemic, Singh said that another precipitating factor impacting mental health amid Covid-19 could be domestic violence, which is reported to have increased during lockdowns in the region.
“Early identification of mental health conditions, recognition of suicidal behaviours and appropriate management through a multi-sectoral approach is important, even as we continue to focus on arresting further spread of the pandemic,” said Singh.
According to the WHO, almost 800,000 lives are lost due to suicide every year globally, which is also a major cause of death among the young people aged between 15 and 29 years.
“Evidence shows that for each adult who dies of suicide, there are more than 20 others attempting suicide. The impact of suicide on families, friends and communities is devastating and far-reaching,” said the WHO statement.