While COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be quite effective and the number of COVID-related deaths has declined, the pandemic has had an excruciating psychological impact on the society.
This week, World Mental Health Day was celebrated, which saw health leadership all over the world call for action to deal with the 25% increase in depression and anxiety.
A top psychologist in Israel also raised concerns that a ‘mental health pandemic’ is just beginning.
Depression on the rise
The World Health Organization (WHO)’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that even in the years before the pandemic, the WHO had estimated that there was a rise in cases of depression.
The director general stated that then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and it had resulted in an increase in anxiety and depression by almost 25%, which has had major economic and social consequences.
On Monday, World Mental Health Day was celebrated and it marked the introduction of a campaign by WHO, which was aimed at making mental well-being and health a priority all over the globe.
According to Ghebreyesus, the subject of mental health is no longer considered taboo the same way as it was 10 years ago.
This is because a number of sports stars, celebrities and CEOs had opened up about the struggles they had had with anxiety and depression.
Long way to go
However, he also added that they had still had a long way to go when it comes to dealing with a number of mental health problems, such as psychosis.
Prof. Golan Shahar, a leading clinical health psychologist in Israel from the Ben Gurion University, also gave an overview and shared some advice.
He said that it was a mental health pandemic and while it did not affect everyone, there will be long-term mental health outcomes.
He stated that the pandemic had resulted in an increase in mental health issues all over the world. He said that the number was downright staggering.
Prof. Shahar said that a lot of experts had said earlier that the COVID-19 pandemic would result in increased depression, anxiety, violence and other mental health issues and they were correct.
Increase in anxiety
He stated that those who had already been suffering from anxiety before the pandemic had only seen it go up. The expert said that others were also affected and a number of elements were involved.
He gave the example of economic anxiety, who may not be a condition that is widely diagnosed, but he said that it was burdensome.
The mental health expert said that there had been increases in diagnoses. He revealed that according to a big data study, the number of teenage girls getting diagnosed with depression in Israel had doubled.
But, he said that the diagnoses could still not identify the extent of the issue. He said that teachers, mental health professionals, doctors and others had only managed to diagnose some of the cases.
He emphasized that mental health training was important, or else a lot of diagnoses would be missed.