Recent studies in the Region have shown high rates of depression and anxiety as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women, young people, those with pre-existing mental health conditions, health workers, and persons living in vulnerable conditions. Mental health and substance use services have also been severely disrupted by the pandemic. A lack of financial and human resource investments in mental health services, and the limited implementation of the community-based care model have contributed to the current mental health situation. At the same time, the Region has seen innovations in tele-mental health, and a scaling up of mental health and psychosocial support to address gaps in services. The pandemic has therefore created an opportunity for strengthening and improving mental health using transformational approaches to build back better and fairer.
To achieve this, however, far greater political will, financing, community mobilization and social change are needed to ensure that mental health is afforded the priority it deserves, as part of rebuilding health and social systems, post COVID-19.
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