|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 180-181
Coming out of the COVID-19 Pandemic: New Hopes and New Lessons for Future
Rakesh Kumar Chadda1, Andrew Molodynski2, Rachid Bennegadi3
1 Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
3 Sigmund Freud University, Paris, France
|Date of Submission||18-Nov-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||20-Nov-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||21-Dec-2022|
Prof. Rakesh Kumar Chadda
Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Chadda RK, Molodynski A, Bennegadi R. Coming out of the COVID-19 Pandemic: New Hopes and New Lessons for Future. World Soc Psychiatry 2022;4:180-1
Since early 2020, the whole world has faced the unprecedented crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has brought many challenges to society including political leadership, policymakers, industry, and health professionals. The pandemic was associated with great mortality and morbidity across most countries, regardless of the economy. Measures to control the spread of the infection such as lockdowns with the closure of industrial establishments, educational institutions, and travel restrictions had further adverse psychosocial and economic consequences. Since there were no known evidence-based treatments or vaccines, these were often prolonged. Fortunately, in less than a year, the scientists were able to come out with vaccines, which brought some relief. The pandemic reinforced the importance of mental health with many developing mental health problems, ranging from acute stress reactions, anxiety, depression, adjustment problems, posttraumatic stress disorder and increased suicidal risk, and grief and survivor guilt in those who lost their near dear ones. Health care and frontline workers who were exposed to persons infected with the virus faced a higher risk of developing an infection as well as mental health problems. Many persons with preexisting mental health problems could not access the treatments they needed and suffered relapses due to travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Much was learned from this pandemic, such as the importance of social distancing and maintaining respiratory hygiene, and the amazing work done to develop vaccines for a new infection in a few months. The pandemic has hopefully prepared us for facing such challenges when they happen again. The sharing of crucial health information between countries was an important part of this response.
The pandemic has also brought a much-needed focus on mental health; an area of health care that remains marginalized all over the world with budget allocation for mental health being <2% of government budgets for health in many parts of the world. Mental health has never accounted for more than 1% of the global development assistance for health. There is also a need to focus on research on mental health not only in high-income countries but also in low- and middle-income countries. Mental health, being an integral component of health, needs to be made an integral part of public health. Policymakers and political leadership across the world, alongside international agencies such as the World Health Organization and other UN agencies, need to increase the focus on mental health in their public health policies.
Mental health professionals are still dealing with the effects on mental health in many people who developed COVID-19 infection months ago, and the psychosocial and mental health issues including complicated grief in those who lost their loved ones. There were also many children orphaned during the pandemic. These sections of the population have specific mental health needs.
One important lesson from the pandemic was the widespread use of different web platforms and information technology for scientific deliberations, research, and consultations in the background of travel restrictions and social distancing imposed by the worldwide lockdowns. Without this, it would have been much more difficult to develop effective strategies for dealing with the pandemic. It is logical to assume that this also facilitated the development of vaccines in such a short time of few months which otherwise would not have been possible. The widespread use of telemedicine has also opened the opportunity for using this facility to provide teleconsultation and telepsychotherapy to persons living long distances and/or those with mobility issues. In megacities such as London, New York, or Delhi, this could also offer savings on travel time.
In the background of the pandemic, the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) was able to continue its activities in hybrid mode with regular meetings of its executive council and also an international meeting in hybrid mode, the Asia-Pacific Congress of Social Psychiatry on September 16–18, 2021 at New Delhi, India. WASP 2021 was attended by 714 delegates from 30 countries, a sign of recovery from the fatigue of the pandemic. We would also like to welcome you to the Joint Congress of the WASP and the Faculty of Rehabilitation and Social Psychiatry of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, being organized in London on January 16–18, 2023.
I hope that you will find the present issue (the last issue of 2022) of the World Social Psychiatry being released on the eve of the WASP 2023 Congress interesting and stimulating.
| References|| |
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Moeti M, Gao GF, Herrman H. Global pandemic perspectives: Public health, mental health, and lessons for the future. Lancet 2022;400:e3-7.