Covid lockdowns have created a “global crisis for mental health”, the World Health Organisation has admitted. MailOnline has more.
An international report by the UN agency found two years of restrictions have led to “significant mental health consequences”, especially for young people.
The WHO now estimates more than a billion people around the world are living with a mental health disorder as a result, a quarter more than pre-Covid. It said there had been an even bigger rise among children, “potentially reflecting the deep impact of school closures”.
Curbs imposed to control Covid led to feelings of “social isolation, disconnectedness and uncertainty about the future”, the report added.
The admission comes despite the WHO hailing China’s lockdowns at the start of the pandemic and warning that lifting measures too early in Britain may cause a “deadly resurgence” in 2020.
Schools were closed nationally at least twice over the course of the pandemic, with students also forced to learn from home because of individual closures.
More than 100 countries also shut down schools during the peak of the first wave.
The WHO World Mental Health Report was published on June 16th by the WHO’s mental health and substance division. It was designed to improve mental health across the world, looking at all the latest data available with case studies from people living with conditions.
It said more than one billion people are now living with a mental health condition, after increasing by more than 25% dung the first year of the pandemic. The most common types include anxiety, depression and developmental disorders like autism.
But children were worst affected by restrictions, officials said, with rates of bullying and abuse at home increasing and a lack of social interaction causing isolation during school closures.
The report said: “Restrictions imposed during the Covid pandemic for example had significant mental health consequences for many, including stress, anxiety or depression stemming from social isolation, disconnectedness and uncertainty about the future.”
It added: “Globally there was also a greater change in prevalence among younger age groups than older ones, potentially reflecting the deep impact of school closures and social restrictions on youth mental health. For some children and adolescents, being made to stay at home is likely to have increased the risk of family stress or abuse, which are known risk factors for mental health problems.”
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