Covid-19 gives Malawi room to enhance mental health services

Ministry of health says the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the necessity of integrating mental health care into general health care.

This was revealed during the virtual Research Dissemination Conference which was organized by the College of Medicine and other partners on October 23-24, 2020.

Assistant Director of Clinical Services(Mental Health) NCD’s and mental health unit, Clinical  Services Directorate in the line ministry, Michael Udedi highlighted how Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the mental wellbeing of the general population and how the country can enhance its mental health services.

In his presentation Udedi talked of how the pandemic has led to surges in mental health concerns, substance abuse for some people, stigma and domestic violence among others.

On the part of health care workers Udedi said they faced difficulties in managing psychological problems faced by people affected with Covid-19, shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and Covid-19 related stigma and discrimination.

However there are some positive mental health impacts from the pandemic which include increased awareness and improved personal hygiene practices, closeness of people to their families and increased time for relaxation and exercises.

Udedi said, it is therefore important to strengthen mental health support systems and services, develop a policy regarding mental health on public health emergencies and employ more counsellors and psychologists in the public health sector.

Meanwhile a renowned psychologist Dr Eric Umar has described the development of the policy regarding mental health on public health emergencies as long overdue saying where life or property is lost this has psychological impacts but mostly the focus is on the physical wellbeing.

“It’s extremely critical to have such policies in place so that we are able to be proactive in times of emergencies”.

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