Critical funding gaps are halting and disrupting crucial mental health services in Africa, as demand for these services rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new World Health Organization (WHO) survey shows.
The survey of 28 African countries was undertaken as part of the first global examination of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services. It underscores the urgent need for increased funding. Of the countries responding in the African region, 37% reported that their COVID-19 mental health response plans are partially funded and a further 37% reported having no funds at all.
This comes as the COVID-19 pandemic increases demand for mental health services.
“Isolation, loss of income, the deaths of loved ones and a barrage of information on the dangers of this new virus can stir up stress levels and trigger mental health conditions or exacerbate existing ones,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, more than ever, how mental health is integral to health and well-being and must be an essential part of health services during outbreaks and emergencies.”