Covid-19 poses 'greatest threat to mental health since second world war'
The coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, with the impact to be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control, the country’s leading psychiatrist has said.
President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Adrian James said a combination of the disease, its social consequences and the economic fallout were having a profound effect on mental health that would continue long after the epidemic is reined in.
"This is going to have a profound effect on mental health. It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences," James said.
The threat to mental health has been used as an argument against lockdowns, but James said the mental health grounds for controlling the virus should not be ignored. Beyond the fear of becoming infected or having vulnerable loves ones fall ill, suffering severe disease can trigger mental health problems. About a fifth of people who received mechanical ventilation during the spring developed post-traumatic stress disorder, Guardian reported.
Others are dealing with complex grief reactions after losing loved ones to the virus, often without being able to say goodbye in person. The potential for mental health problems emerging in people with “long Covid” is also a very real worry, James said, adding that uncertainties over employment, housing and the broader economic hardship ahead will only add to the burden.