Participants at the 60th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) agreed on Wednesday to pass a set of actions in response to the Covid-19 impact on the surge in mental health issues and interruptions in related essential health services.
The document aims to guide PAHO Member States in their efforts by using an equity and rights-based approach and taking into account national context, needs and priorities.
According to experts, the Covid-19 pandemic worsened pre-existing mental health conditions, such as major depressive and anxiety disorders, which in 2020 rose by 35% and 32%, respectively, in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Recent data show that nearly 100,000 people die by suicide in the Americas every year, making it the only World Health Organization region where suicide rate is ramping up.
Women, young people, indigenous populations, Afro-descendants and members of other ethnic groups, as well as people living in poverty and those with pre-existing mental health disorders, are among the most seriously affected.