Good mental health and positive wellbeing are key to resilience during the Coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19, however, disproportionately hit people who are already in a vulnerable situation, including people with psychosocial disabilities. The pandemic exposed the shortcomings of European mental healthcare systems.
On World Health Day, Mental Health Europe released a statement to remind national and European policy-makers of the critical role that human rights compliant mental health services play in contributing to a public health response during COVID-19 pandemic. Adding to a likely rise of demands for psychosocial support in the aftermath of COVID-19 crisis, governments need to act now if they want to ensure that the current public health crisis does not become long-term mental health and social crisis.
Building on 35 years of action in the European arena, Mental Health Europe calls on:
- National and local authorities to set in place measures that consider the reality of people with psychosocial disabilities, allowing for reasonable accommodation of their needs and that are developed with their involvement.
- National and local authorities to ensure continued access to psychosocial support and care for people experiencing distress and people with psychosocial disabilities. This means providing measures that allow for flexible service provision, peer support, helplines and online psychosocial support.
- Governments to ensure tools to monitor and address the risk of violence and abuse of people with psychosocial disabilities, particularly women and girls, as well as persons living in institutions.
- European, national and regional policy-makers to rethink priorities and revisit structural discrimination in mental healthcare policies to move towards human rights compliant mental health systems that encompass the whole community, including measures to improve the mental health literacy of all public officials.
- National and European policy-makers to adopt urgent comprehensive long-term strategies to mitigate the health and socio-economic consequences of the current crisis on people with psychosocial disabilities.