Psychological complaints such as anxiety and depression have increased by a quarter worldwide in the first year of the corona pandemic, according to researchers from the Free University in Amsterdam and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Their study confirms once again that this is especially the case for young people. The researchers call the information now known about the impact of corona on mental health “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“This is a wake-up call for all countries to pay more attention to mental health,” says professor Marit Sijbrandij, one of the researchers involved. The study shows not only that young people suffer the most from psychological distress from the pandemic, but also that women have been hit harder than men. The risk of mental disorders also rose for people with existing health problems and conditions, from cancer to asthma or heart disease.
Due to the corona measures intended to slow down the virus, more people became socially isolated. The resulting loneliness caused “unprecedented stress,” according to the researchers.
While more people developed psychological complaints, health care was seriously disrupted. This also applied to mental health care and, for example, addiction care and suicide prevention. According to the researchers, “enormous gaps in care have emerged for those who need it most.”
By the end of last year, the situation had “improved somewhat,” but many people worldwide “still cannot get the care and support they need for both pre-existing and newly developed mental illnesses,” the researchers note.