The COVID-19 pandemic has had enormous impacts on many aspects of people’s lives, not only socially and financially, but also in terms of mental health.
Unfortunately, the World Health Organization stated on Oct. 5 that a recent survey had found that the pandemic had disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 percent of countries worldwide, at a time when demand for such services is increasing.
A WHO survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the devastating impacts of the pandemic on access to mental health services.
In Indonesia, both the government and organizations concerned with mental health have stepped up efforts to improve access to mental health services by, among other measures, launching online consultation hotlines.
During a webinar to commemorate the upcoming World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, revealed that the province had prepared a crisis center at the Cisarua Mental Hospital and Grha Atma Bandung in response to mental health emergency situation.
Moreover, the Cisarua Mental Hospital has also launched an online mental health consultation (KJOL) service to address the rising mental health issues during the pandemic.
“The online consultation service will assist with the screening process for patients who need face-to-face consultations,” Ridwan said.
He added that data from the Health Ministry showed that 6.8 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million people had suffered from anxiety disorders during the pandemic.
At the West Java Provincial Hospital alone, 112 individuals with anxiety disorders had been treated by September, according to Ridwan.
“The psychological impacts are really severe. Moreover, the number of fatalities caused by COVID-19, all the uncertainties on when all of this will be over, a vaccine that has yet to be available, social issues, stigma, job losses, the change in human interaction and many other factors cannot be taken lightly,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Previously, two Indonesian health institutions also raised concern about mental health problems, as many people struggle to cope with the changes they face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 14,619 people received treatment from members of the Indonesian Clinical Psychologists Association (IPK Indonesia) from March to August.
The most common issues reported are linked to learning difficulties, anxiety, stress, mood disorders and depression.
Meanwhile, a self-examination study conducted by the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association (PDSKJI) from April to August found that 57.6 percent of the participants were identified as having symptoms of depression.
Meanwhile, 58.9 percent of the self-examination partakers reported having suicidal or self-harm thoughts, with 15.4 percent experiencing this on a daily basis.
The groups urged Indonesians to recognize signs or tendencies of suicidal thoughts and immediately help the affected individuals seek help.
“The community needs to learn and understand the various things that can cause mental health problems and how to overcome them,” the groups said, adding that they were willing to provide community assistants.
The groups called on people to care for and pay more attention to others, recognizing that suicidal tendencies could be prevented through intensive treatment by psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
“Suicidal thoughts, intentions or actions have multidimensional and biopsychosocial causes; [they are] not due to a person’s weak faith,” the groups stated.
Each year, around 800,000 people across the world commit suicide, meaning a person commits suicide every 40 seconds, according to data from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) quoted by the groups.
In April, the government launched a psychological consultation service to help people dealing with mental health issues during the coronavirus outbreak.
The service, called the Psychological Services for Mental Health (Sejiwa) program, aims to ensure the mental health of COVID-19 patients and the increasingly anxious public.
The psychological consultation service can be accessed by dialing extension 8 on the National COVID-19 hotline of 119. The caller will be connected to one of 162 volunteer psychologists from the Indonesian Psychology Association (HIMPSI). (iwa)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.