Pandemic impact on mental health: A global overview

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After 2 years of living with COVID-19, the physical toll of the pandemic is evident, in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, but what of the mental effects? Frontline workers and young people have been some of the hardest hit, but no one has escaped the impact of the pandemic. In this Special Feature, Medical News Today investigates how the pandemic has affected mental health worldwide and asked experts how we might address this issue.

After 2 years of COVID-19, what does mental health look like, worldwide? Image credit: Boy_Anupong/Getty Images.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, the United Nations reported that stress and anxiety levels had risen substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, several waves of COVID-19 have left their mark around the globe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) definesTrusted Source mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental health issues occur when people cannot cope well with the stresses of life. A pandemic is a stressor that few might have envisaged having to cope with. Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

The fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, together with concern about economic effects, has caused anxiety and stress. Frontline workers, particularly medical professionals, have experienced burnoutTrusted Source and chronic stress from the increased pressure. Multiple lockdowns, physical distancing, and fear of infection have increased isolation, loneliness, and anxiety, all factors that, according to Lee Chambers, psychologist and founder of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing, are “massive catalysts” for mental health issues.

Other experts agree. According to Dr. Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

 

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