HumanInsight Impact of COVID-19 on mental health and psychosocial support services in the Eastern Mediterranean Region - results of a rapid assessment
East Mediterr Health J. 2022 May 29;28(5):321-328. doi: 10.26719/emhj.22.018.
BACKGROUND: Mental health has been identified by the World Health Organization as an integral component of the COVID-19 response.
AIMS: This study aimed to estimate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental, neurological and substance use disorders (MNS) services in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
METHODS: The assessment was conducted through a web-based survey that was completed by national mental health focal persons and was analysed between June and August 2020.
RESULTS: School and workplace mental health services were wholly or partially disrupted in more than 70% of reporting countries. Fewer than 20% of the countries in the Region reported full operations of mental health services for children and adolescents or for older adults. The main reasons were travel restrictions, decreases in inpatient volumes due to the cancellation of elective care, decreases in outpatient volumes due to patients not presenting, and health authority directives for the closure of outpatient services. The majority (85%) of countries responded by establishing MNS helplines using telemedicine/teletherapy and digital psychological interventions. The fragile and conflict-affected states relied mostly on implementing infection prevention and control measures at MNS service facilities. Gaps were identified in the areas of addictive behaviours, substance use and neurology research related to the pandemic.
CONCLUSION: The assessment highlights the need to strengthen capacities for monitoring changes in service delivery and utilization, and documents evidence on what works in different settings during the different phases of the pandemic to facilitate informed decisions related to the nature and timing of adaptations to service delivery.
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