Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Thursday that the mental health of millions of people across the globe has been affected by the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.

In a virtual press address from Geneva, the 55-year-old Director-General highlighted, "For many people, the lack of social interaction caused by the pandemic has had a profound effect on their mental health."

Psychiatric Institutions at Higher Risk of Infections

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Wikimedia Commons

The WHO chief said that people in long-term facilities such as care homes and psychiatric institutions are at an increased risk of infection, Xinhua news agency reported. He added that mental health professionals have themselves been infected with the virus, and some mental health facilities have been closed to be converted into treatment facilities for people with COVID-19.

He recalled that mental health was already "a neglected health issue" globally before the pandemic, with close to one billion people living with a mental disorder. Yet relatively few people have access to quality mental health services.

Extensive Scale-up of Investments in Mental Health

"In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 percent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition at all," Tedros noted.

He declared that for this year's World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10, the WHO, together with its partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, would call for a massive scale-up in investments in mental health.

(With inputs from agencies)