We’ve reiterated our call for increased investment in therapy after the World Health Organisation called for action from governments on COVID-related mental health issues.

Senior health officials from across the WHO European Region called on all government’s to urgently address the mental health crisis, which has been made worse by the devastating impacts of the pandemic and to recognise that good mental health should be a fundamental human right.

Mental health impact

In a joint statement they’ve noted the mental health impacts of the pandemic will be “long-term and far-reaching”.

From anxieties around virus transmission, to the psychological impact of lockdowns and self-isolation, to the effects of unemployment, financial worries and social exclusion, to barriers to accessing appropriate mental health support and care. Everyone has been affected.

At the request of the WHO Regional Director for Europe, a new technical advisory group (TAG) was established in February 2021 to provide advice and guidance to European nations on the key mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to suggest critical actions to be taken by national authorities in response.

They’ve recommended a number of important actions including reflecting ongoing BACP campaign priorities on the need to strengthen mental health support services as an integral component of the COVID-19 response, a call for increased mental health support in schools and the need for more personal-centred community provision of services which are culturally appropriate.

Investment in counselling

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: “We welcome the leadership shown by the WHO and would like to see similar ambition from each of the governments of the UK to address this growing mental health challenge exacerbated by the pandemic.

“In particular, we would welcome increased investment for the counselling professions to expand services into the heart of communities and across schools and education settings, ensuring universal and rapid access.”

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: “The pandemic, which has been devastating in so many ways, provides an opportunity for countries to re-think and re-form their mental health services.

“It’s an opportunity no country can afford to waste if we are to build back better and stronger. Mental health and well-being should be seen as a fundamental human right.”