Tackling the mental health crisis of the pandemic

By Leila Hawkins
Dr. Dawn Gonsalves, Behavioural Health Medical Director at MVP Health Care, offers tips for addressing mental issues during the pandemic...

Increased feelings of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, along with the disruption to mental health services have created a global mental health crisis, with the WHO estimating that 93 per cent of services worldwide have been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. 

The unusual circumstances people suddenly found themselves in, and isolation caused by social distancing restrictions have led to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression. This has not only affected adults, as children, unable to go to school are also being impacted. 

"Kids without or with limited internet access are falling behind in school which can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression and loneliness" explains Dr. Dawn Gonsalves. 

For people experiencing mental health problems Gonsalves recommends trying to remain in touch with others as much as possible through technology. "In addition to telemedicine for mental health support, people can and should utilise technology to connect with loved ones. 

"For a more personal connection, call using video chat. Individuals can also watch a light-hearted TV show or a movie. Often the best way to combat stress and sadness is by occupying your mind with other activities." 

MVP Health Care has a specific behavioural healthcare programme that gives access to around 4,000 providers 24-7; it can also be accessed virtually. "MVP Health Care provides “health insurance built around me,” and throughout the pandemic that has been of the utmost importance. The programme connects members via case managers to licensed behavioural health clinicians who are available for support calls, to help improve their daily quality of life, and to help members better understand their behavioural health condition." 

Gonsalves says that one positive aspect is that the importance of taking care of one’s mental health has been in the limelight for the past year. "People are feeling encouraged and supported to seek help when they previously might have stayed silent.

"The most important thing is to continue seeking mental health support and following your physician’s treatment plan."

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