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PAHO chief warns of mental health crisis throughout the Americas

PAHO chief warns of mental health crisis throughout the Americas

Washington, Aug 19 (Prensa Latina) Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne on Wednesday warned that regional nations are currently facing a mental health crisis, which could worsen and prolong the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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60% of people in this region suffer from anxiety or depression; however, nearly 90% of countries report that psychotherapy and mental health counseling services were interrupted by Covid-19, Dr. Carissa Etienne said.

Dr. Etienne explained that more than half of school programs and three-quarters of out-to-school programs were partially or totally affected, leaving 15% of young people vulnerable. It also harms a great deal of people who may be experiencing these issues for the first time, including front-line Covid-19 health workers who lack necessary support.

Dr. Etienne regretted that those already living with mental health disorders have found it difficult to access essential medicines or therapies, which can worsen their health conditions and leave them vulnerable to crisis.

In this context, Costa Rica, for example, is today developing manifold researches to better understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health and improve its response to this issue, as well as to serve as reference to other regional nations.

PAHO works with its member states to reduce stigma on this issue, so that all those in need of support feel comfortable and safe asking for help.

This pandemic is a reminder that good mental health is an axis for health care in our region and the well-being of our societies, said Dr. Carissa Etienne.

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