COVID Pandemic has impacted to the Mental Health: IIHMR University Study


India | IIHMR University in its series of PUBLIC HEALTH AND MENTAL WELLBEING DISCUSSION SERIES: ISSUES, CHALLENGES, AND SOLUTIONS AMID COVID 19 organized a webinar on ‘Mental Health – A Global Public Health Challenge’. The eminent speakers from the University of London, University of Manchester, and IIHMR University shared their research work and thoughts on the spectrum of mental health during COVID, and coping strategies. The key speakers were – Prof. Mohammed Abou – Saleh, Professor of Psychiatry, St. George’s, University of London; Prof. Vimal Sharma, Professor of Global Mental Health Research, University of Manchester and Dr. S D Gupta, Chairman of IIHMR University.


Dr. S D Gupta, Chairman of IIHMR University said, “Mental Illness is the second leading cause of disease burden in India. And COVID has made this ratio worst with a sudden impact with various factors affecting mental well-being. People were worried about livelihood but the massive impacts on mental health were due to factors such as lockdown, migration, job losses, deaths of family members, work from home, household violence, and study from home due to COVID. Patients who were having mental health issues before COVID, how they managed without non-availability of mental health care during COVID times.”

As per Lancet Psychiatry 2020 report, One in every seven Indians were affected by mental disorders of varying severity in 2017. The proportional contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India has almost doubled since 1990. Substantial variations exist between the states in the burden from different mental disorders and in their trends over time. With the COVID pandemic, this ratio of mental disorders in the Indians must have made the worst impact. COVID has disrupted all countries' Sustainable Development Goals and has shifted the priority towards the urgency of health management, and this includes mental wellbeing too.

Dr Mohammed Abou – Saleh, Professor of Psychiatry, St. George’s, University of London, said, “COVID pandemic is the greatest challenge of the 21st century. But human intelligence has created a good science that has come to rescue us. As per WHO COVID dashboard, globally as of July 2021, there have been over 182.3 million confirmed cases including over 3.9 million deaths, and as of 28th June 2021, over 2950.1 million vaccine doses have been administered. This whole unwanted pandemic event has changed human life suddenly with various devastating factors such as – Socioeconomic status like low income, unemployment, income inequality, low education, low social support; Inadequate housing, overcrowding and neighborhood violence; natural disaster, migration, changes in income and environmental degradation.”

Dr. Vimal Sharma, Professor of Global Mental Health Research, University of Manchester said, “Health system should create a complete management process of curing the Mental Health Problems. Management of distress can be cured by meeting the patient’s emotional needs. Connecting and talking to people, Yoga and Spiritual Ways, Active Exercise, Taking notice of nice things, Avoiding watching the COVID news, Keep learning on how to win over stress, positive thinking can help to manage the distress.”

Due to COVID 19 aftershocks, many low-income and middle-income countries are forced to reimagine the health systems in their countries. Some of them have taken rapid steps towards responses to the mental health impact in their countries. India has made tremendous efforts by setting a) Toll-Free Mental Health Helpline, b) Kerala State Government established a multidisciplinary team, c) 1140 psychiatrists, counsellors, and social workers trained to assess the psychological health of people with COVID infected, older people living alone and children., d) 1.3 million calls to people in quarantined and other vulnerable individuals e) Opioid drug replacement therapy dispensed fortnightly to more than 0.5 million patients.

All the speakers emphasized the need of training public health professionals on mental health management in primary health care system as there is a dearth of psychiatrists.  Global mental Health Assessment Tool is well-tested one to train the PHC medical officers and ANMs to help the public at their level.

Dr. P R Sodani, President of IIHMR University welcomed the speakers. The webinar was moderated Dr. Vinod Kumar SV, Dean and Professor, SDG SPH– IIHMR University. The webinar ‘Mental Health – A Global Public Health Challenge’ was attended by 300+ health area experts and students from countries such as India, Bhutan, China, UK, and the US.


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