Mental Health Awareness Week: How COVID-19 fueled global rise in stress, loneliness

The COVID-19 pandemic left millions of people locked inside their homes, restricting their social interaction with others – a fundamental part of maintaining one’s mental health – leading to greater anxiety, loneliness, and stress.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Al Arabiya English spoke to mental health experts in the United Arab Emirates who weighed in on the world’s post-pandemic state of mental health.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Reena Thomas of Dubai’s Medeor Hospital has also noticed a sharp increase in mental health issues, with the most common cases being obsessive compulsive-related disorders, traumatic and stress-related disorders, anxiety and social anxiety disorder, as well as interpersonal issues and internet addiction among children and adolescents who are facing multiple personality and behavioral issues.

“Mental health issues are a serious threat to society. It is not a hidden fact anymore that depression has become one of the most important illnesses that adds to the global disease burden and disability worldwide,” Thomas told Al Arabiya English.

“We must prioritize awareness programs and implement measures at all levels for further damage control.”

Awareness on the rise but stigma remains

Mental health now ranks second among global health concerns, overtaking cancer, a new report by market research company Ipsos found.

Although this statistic is worrying, it also points to the fact that mental health awareness has improved. The Ipsos report also found that three in four globally believe mental and physical health are equally important.

“I have seen a slight difference in stigma, but not at a satisfying level. While there is a surge in the number of people seeking help, regardless of socioeconomic status and educational background, people still construe mental health as a self-induced or self-moldable aspect of life,” said Thomas.

Although awareness has increased, some mental health experts believe there still is a stigma associated with mental health issues in several countries around the world.

Read More: Al Arabia News

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