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For almost thirty years, every year on 10 October, we find ourselves reflecting on a delicate, sometimes uncomfortable subject, a source of pain and marginalization for those involved. There World Mental Health Day, established in 1992 and recognized by the World Health Organization, has precisely this as its objective: to promote, through meetings and discussions, the awareness and defense of mental health against social stigma. Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, the contradictions “of a disparity in treatment and quality of care provided between those suffering from mental illnesses and those with other pathologies”, to quote the aspect on which this year’s Day focuses, have emerged throughout the their drama.
Covid it has deeply eroded mental well-being of people, causing a pandemic wave of mental distress that declines into depression, anxiety, self-harm, hitting women and young people particularly hard, without sparing the children. The first world estimates reported in the Lancet report a 28% increase in cases of major depression and a 26% increase in anxiety disorders directly linked to the pandemic. The data is impressive: in conjunction with Covid, one in four young people aged 18-24 said they had increased the use of substances to cope with Covid stress. Globally, a person takes his own life every 40 seconds and in 2020 suicides have also increased in our reality by a percentage of 16% compared to the same period in 2019.
Pandemic does not spare the children: according to Save the Children 83% of children around the world feel an increase in negative feelings and among minors, levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness and self-harm are on the rise. Furthermore, in countries where schools were closed for 17-19 weeks, psychological distress increased in 96% of cases. The data emerges from a survey conducted by the Organization in September 2020 of more than 13,000 children in 46 countries.
According to a new analysis based on data from the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker, since the start of the pandemic, children around the world have spent an average of around six months in total at home due to lockdowns. “We are experiencing a global mental health crisis and its effects could be catastrophic for some children. Those living in poverty or in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations are even more at risk from harmful consequences of prolonged lockdowns – declares Marie Dahl, head of the Save the Children mental health unit -. The lack of social stimuli can have a serious impact on their mental health and development ».
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