In October 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing. The survey of 130 countries provided the first global data showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services and underscores the urgent need for increased funding.
Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. Meanwhile, COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke.
“Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they’re needed most.
Similarly, the healthcare challenges of an aging society are vast and often include disease, disability, isolation, fear, anxiety, loneliness, despair and hopelessness. Despite extensive efforts, overall quality of life for seniors is in jeopardy while life expectancy is progressively extending through technological medical advances. Few meaningful, accessible and enjoyable cost-effective approaches exist that enable seniors living in the community and in long term care environments to actively engage in programs that improve their health and well-being.
In addition, the US and many countries face humanitarian issues when the relocation of refugees from the poor living conditions in a refugee camp to an advanced country usually results in a major shift in their lifestyles. Resettled refugees have to learn the host country’s language, culture and the environment to succeed in the process. They have to re-construct their reality of the above factors. Failure to adjust to the new society would develop symptoms of anxiety, depression and psychological distress (Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2013). According to CDC, inability to find a job and the lack of community support were the major precursors of suicidal ideation among the Bhutanese refugees in the US. An investigation by the CDC found that the most common post-migration challenges contributing to mental health issues were language barriers, worries about family back home, separation from family and difficulty maintaining cultural and religious traditions (CDC, 2012).
As we also delve into challenges youth face, there are a number of social issues facing teens today that other generations didn’t deal with. Advances in technology and the rise of social media have contributed to a change in the ways in which our young people interact with each other, learn and receive information. Adolescents are subjected to bullying, gun-violence, mental health, drugs and alcohol, and obesity. Increased peer-pressure and lack of role models often drive youth down a destructive path.
Finally, COVID-19 has made managing stress at work almost impossible. Prior to the March 2020 pandemic stress made it hard for employees to be present, productive and successful at work. Childcare and eldercare contributed to the stress, but post pandemic brings added economic, family and health challenges to the work environment.
It is vital to inspire and motivate individuals to take an active and meaningful role in their health and wellbeing. The potential for optimizing wellness through such measures holds great promise for improving quality of life while containing cost.