What impact has social isolation had on our mental health? What will the next few months be like? Is the health system prepared to respond to the increase in cases and their specificity?

What’s next for Mental Health: Coping with COVID-19” joined this Wednesday, June 24, renowned experts in the field of mental health, on both sides of the Atlantic, in a debate moderated by journalist Maria Elisa Domingues.

The speakers pointed out two common themes: that people with pre-existing conditions have been – and will continue to be – in an even more damaging situation; and that the economic difficulties that are the result of the restrictive measures taken by the Government will aggravate mental health issues.

Teresa Maia, Director of the Department of Mental Health at Fernando Fonseca Hospital, that serves a large portion of the population in Greater Lisbon, said that only in April the number of consultations for mental health issues increased by 8%, compared to the same period a year earlier, and this is already having an impact on health professionals, who she says, are tired.

“There is also this increasingly clear notion that this is not going to end so quickly.” – Teresa Maia.

Miguel Xavier, Psychiatrist, and Director of the Portuguese National Mental Health Program stressed the impact that economic difficulties and inequalities are already having on the population. In the future, he says, there is either a coordinated effort to support these areas or the problems will worsen, and may even degenerate into violence.

“Either there is a clear investment in policies to support inequalities, or the avalanche of mental health cases will be much greater than expected.” – Miguel Xavier.

The Clinical Psychologist Henrique Barreto is of the same opinion, advising the Government to take measures to resolve the issues of family debts. The problem, he says, is still at the beginning.

“The poverty we are in will bring us serious consequences for mental health. (…) This pandemic is a marathon that, in my view, is only now starting from the perspective of psychological damage.” – Henrique Barreto.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Neuropsychologist Margaret Lanca argued that this pandemic has exposed problems that already exist in our society, such as inequality, and recalled the impact these inequalities are having on the physical and mental health of the population.

“This pandemic has done a fantastic job in revealing the fractures that exist in our society. (…) Up to 15% of the population in the United States does not have regular WIFI access. These people have been cast aside. Creating an even greater division in what was already a situation of inequality in access to health services.” – Margaret Lanca.

Don’t miss out on our next webinar, July 3rd, at 5 pm, dedicated to the response of Parliaments and Legislators to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences that have resulted from this crisis.

Participation is free of charge. Just sign up via the following link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/1615930865942/WN_oRL9x-CsSXWigx1CzO2spQ

See you soon!