WHO warns against holiday gatherings, mental health crisis caused by COVID-19

As COVID-19 infections grow across Europe, the growing holiday mode and the growing mental health crisis were the main messages from a press release from the World Health Organization Regional Director (WHO) for Europe Hans Kluge on Friday.

Revealing nearly 23 million cases and more than half a million lost in Europe due to COVID-19 during the year, the WHO regional director tried to appeal to the local population to stay at home.

“There is still a difference between what authorities allow you to do and what you should do. The safest thing right now is to stay at home, ”he said.

Addressing the ongoing human psychological toll of pandemic, Kluge said the European region had been given a “growing mental health crisis”.

“From concerns about the spread of the virus, the psychological effects of lockouts and self-isolation, to the effects of unemployment, financial worries, and social exclusion, the mental health impact of pandemic will be long-term and widespread. ”

Further developing the devastating psychological impact, Kluge cited national studies in the region that had revealed that one-third or more of adults, one in two young people (18 to 29-year-olds) and up to 20 percent of health care workers are already subject to anxiety and depression due to the pandemic.

With even greater challenges in mental health expected in the coming months, Kluge called for action for the European region.

“As a sign of the growing crisis, I want joint action to invest in stronger mental health care services, particularly those that care for the community or use digital care to overcome barriers. has reduced vital support, ”he said.

A WHO official also personally admitted that he had made the “difficult decision” to spend the holidays apart from his family so that “next year we can hope to be together again. ”

“My wish for 2021 is for all of us, and our communities, to be safer and healthier … When we look back on the unprecedented times, I hope we were all feeling that we acted with a spirit of shared humanity to protect those in need. ”