The Year 2020 has posed significant challenges to countries and people worldwide as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. People’s lives and the way we interact to each other and conduct our daily business has changed drastically. Much is said about death reports, number of infections, recoveries seen during COVID-19 however, there are profound and compounded issues and problems brought about by this pandemic. Isolation, fear and worry of losing loved ones, absence of the grieving processes, becoming sick due to weakening health systems, evolving changes in government policies and guidelines such as lockdown, physical
distancing measures are major challenges. Loss of jobs, quarantines, economic and social consequences – all of which increases anxiety, depression and mental health problems. The uncertainty of the disease makes it very challenging to manage with its impact at a huge
scale. People with already existing mental health conditions and other forms of physical disabilities suffer even more. Still, there is so much uncertainty and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 as we adhere to the “new normal” way of living. Myths and misconceptions about the disease and inability to obtain and share accurate and timely information adds on to the mental health and psychological stress of everyone. The strong stigma and marginalization of those with prior mental issues coupled with the stigma
associated with COVID -19 makes things more complicated. The inability to access Mental Health and Psychosocial support (MHPSS) services during COVID-19 makes it more difficult for affected individuals to cope. Prolonged exposure to stress due to long duty hours have harmful effects to frontline workers. These can lead to burnout, anxiety and inability to think objectively for the people that they serve. In some cases, it may trigger onset of common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is alarmingly a need to strengthen advocacy mechanisms in addressing different sectors of society on the importance of mental health and psychosocial support during this pandemic. The need is increasingly important and will escalate substantially in the succeeding months. The recent “World Mental Health Day” celebration substantiates the World Health Organization (WHO) in calling on all governments to investment in mental health programs at all levels, and in making the mental health care services available to everyone.
With the growing need for mental health and psychosocial support around disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, ADPC hosted the fourth cross learning event through a webinar entitled “Mental Health in Emergencies: Greater Investment, Greater Access” with a theme on Making Mental Health and Psychosocial Care Available for Everyone”. It is appropriate and important to understand MHPSS during disease outbreaks (i.e. COVID-19) which has
unsparingly affected economic downturn that continues to bring about violence in all faces, stigma and discrimination, affecting all facets of society. This event was participated by representatives from various organizations and countries in the region. This year’s webinar coincided with the “International Day for Persons with Disabilities”. The inability to function mentally and psychologically and be productive as well as the incapacity to adapt change and cope with challenges as a result of emergencies, disasters and disease outbreak (i.e. COVID-19) becomes a disability hence, this event was very much aligned and timely. Leaving no one behind is a task strongly included in the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) and people with disabilities (PWDs) needs to be included. There is a huge
spectrum of disabilities other than physical conditions which are common but unrecognized. Mental health is one of them. Learning on MHPSS challenges and good practices from disability organizations amidst COVID-19 will be a special topic in this webinar. Objectives of the Webinar:
- To share experiences and good practices on MHPSS in response to Covid-19.
- To learn from other countries approaches used in coping with COVID-19 pandemic.
- To obtain recommendations on evidenced-based MHPSS approaches to greater investment and access for everyone.
It is envisaged that through this webinar, people’s awareness on the importance of increasing investment in MHPSS applied to health service programs, making these services accessible and available to everyone will help strengthen the MHPSS programs in their respective
countries. Participants are able to learn from each other on how other countries continue to manage mental health and psychosocial issues around the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Manique Gunaratne made the presentation on “Persons with disabilities during Covid-19 and MSPSS”.
Picture description for vision impaired persons:
- Manique presenting
2 Manique presenting.
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