The PAHOthe Americas office of the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a high-ranking commission on Friday to help countries address mental health problems in the region, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19.
“In the face of the current mental health crisis, the Pan American Health Organization has established a High-Level Commission on mental health and covid-19 to provide crucial and urgent guidance to its member states”PAHO director Carissa Etienne said in a videoconference.
The group, chaired by Epsy Campbell Barr, outgoing Vice President of Costa Rica, and co-chaired by Néstor Méndez, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), must prepare a report with key recommendations to improve mental health in the Americas, which is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2022.
“We have high expectations that the work of the Commission will lead to elevating mental health to the highest level of government, providing a catalyst for meaningful and lasting reform of services and care.”Étienne pointed out.
According to data from the PAHOthe new coronavirus pandemic declared in early 2020 had an impact “devastating” in the mental health of the population, with an increase in cases of stress, anxiety and depression, especially among women, young people and the most vulnerable.
In addition to the problems generated by fear, loss, unemployment, social distancing and misinformation, there is a growing realization of long-term mental and neurological consequences among those who suffered from COVID-19.
And this comes as essential mental health medical services, already under-invested for a long time, are among the hardest hit by health care disruptions from the pandemic.
“Mental, neurological and substance use disorders and suicide represent more than a third of the total years lived with disability in the region”said Anselm Hennis, director of noncommunicable diseases and mental health at PAHO.
But “Nearly 90% of people in the Americas do not receive the treatment they need, particularly for acute psychosis”he added.
Hennis stressed that suicide continues to be “a great challenge” for the Americas, with about 95,000 annual deaths from self-harm, an increase of 17% since 2000. Among the countries with the highest death rates from suicide are Guyana and Suriname, Uruguay, United States, Haiti, Canada and Cuba.
The PAHO He said the Commission will work on five key areas: recovery from the pandemic and promoting mental health as a priority; the mental health needs of vulnerable populations; the integration of mental health in universal health coverage; financing; and the promotion and prevention of mental health conditions.
Among the members are experts from Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the United States, Guatemala and Mexico.