The state of mental health care around the world at a crisis point
2022 will be the year mental health and emotional well-being come to the fore, a trend that has been fueled by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and will continue to impact us as we enter the third year of living with the virus.
Unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety and poor coping skills to cope with the emotional stress the pandemic has placed on us have increased the demand for mental health services around the world.
Many who would typically be referred for talk, face-to-face, or online therapy (or who receive support from a community mental health team) are unable to get help due to long waiting lists for professional help.
Around the world, the pressure on mental health care leaves hundreds and thousands of people without help. The UK reports that the strain on mental health care has left up to 8 million people without help, according to NHS leaders.
While in the United States, similar trends have emerged showing that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has increased mental health care needs while simultaneously limiting access, with unknown long-term consequences.
A recent report indicates that in the United States alone from August 2020 to February 2021, the CDC described an increase in the proportion of adults reporting recent symptoms of anxiety or depression from 36.4% to 41.5 %, with the fraction reporting unmet mental health care needs increasing from 9.2% to 11.7%.
Among children and adolescents, the proportion of mental health-related ED visits for those aged 5-11 and 12-17 increased by 24% and 31%, respectively, compared to 2019.
Information from SA shows markedly similar results.
“SADAG hotlines have received over 466,400 calls since January 2021, with one in five calls being a suicide-related issue. We continue to see an increase in the number of calls to our helplines each day, with 1,800 to 2,200 incoming calls per day,” says Cassey Chambers, Chief Operating Officer of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.
Private practices at full capacity
Morag Scordills, clinical social worker and recursive brain work therapist (BWRT), acknowledges that she has seen an increase in demand for mental health services in the private sector in South Africa since the onset of the pandemic.
“There are long waiting lists for mental health professionals, and many of my colleagues are trying to refer new clients to no avail because they are full,” she says.
“The private sector is inundated with requests for therapy of all kinds, but it is also true that those who do not have medical aids or who are not in the public sector are also in great need of help,” he said. she declared. “All sectors are equally represented in terms of demand for help. No sector is more in need than another. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic.”
Scordillis confirmed that she has seen an influx of juniors, teenagers and adults in need of counseling in schools.
“With the advent of the pandemic, the number of teenagers seeking advice exploded, and then we also started to see school-aged children struggling with anxiety and in need of help.”
The situation has reached a crisis point so much so that experts around the world say the impact of the virus on mental health is now the second pandemic to come out of Covid-19.
The crisis has exposed cracks in the system that existed long before the pandemic began, and pending developments seek to address these challenges.
To that end, here are the areas of the mental health industry that are set to experience exponential growth in 2022 and beyond:
Increase in school counselors
Employment of school and vocational counselors and counselors is projected to grow 11% in America from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Approximately 35,000 openings for school and vocational counselors and counselors are expected each year, on average, over the decade.
Businesses to scale up
Bupa Global Research Reveals Companies Are Preparing for the Mental Health Challenges Ahead. It shows that nearly 30% of UK business leaders prioritize employee mental health above all else.
Spending on employee mental health is expected to increase by 18% in 2022 across UK businesses. And the study found that only companies in China plan to spend more. With these additional expenses, they plan to create new roles within their organizations that will focus on supporting employee mental health. HR services will also be requalified.
According to other predictions, it is unlikely that everyone will return full-time to their old place of work. Thus, remote and hybrid working will become more common, and there will be a growing need in the coming years for organizations to be aware of the mental health challenges created by hybrid and flexible types of working.
Further expansion of telehealth services
Therapy delivered via telemental health picked up steam in 2020, continued into 2021, and is here to stay, experts say.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many mental health professionals now have the training, experience, confidence and technology to deliver telemental health services effectively and ethically. It also has the potential to increase access to mental health treatment for rural communities and older people.
According to statistics, 60% of mental health practitioners currently have a full workload on telehealth alone, and few clients request in-person sessions.
Some mental health and business analysts predict that telemental health could expand even further.
The market for mental health apps will continue to grow
Deloitte Global predicts that global spending on mobile mental health apps will reach nearly $500 million in 2022. This assumes an annual growth rate of 20% – a conservative figure, given the 32% growth enjoyed by these apps, from $203 million to $269 million. , from the first 10 months of 2019 to the same period in 2020.
For a list of the best mental health apps for 2022, click here.
Trauma-focused therapeutic approach
There will be a more trauma-focused therapeutic approach. Studies have concluded that when a person experiences trauma, their brain goes into fight/flight or freeze mode. If this trauma continues into childhood, the cortical part of the brain is not able to develop properly.
This has an impact on behavior, as well as on learning. The limbic and survival brain are engaged and on red alert but the thinking parts of the brain, the cortex and the prefrontal cortex are disengaged to the detriment of normal.
Bessel van der Kolk, founder and medical director of the Trauma Research Foundation in Brookline, Massachusetts, has long supported this and continues research in this area, which shows that the body keeps score on trauma.
Recognized expert in drug addiction, author and lecturer Dr. Gabor Maté is sought after for his expertise in traumatology. The documentary film “The Wisdom of Trauma”, released last July, challenged new approaches to integrating trauma into the body.
As a result, many emerging therapeutic modalities are moving away from engaging the cortex and prefrontal cortex of the brain (the basis of traditional talk therapies) and instead working with the concepts raised by these experts.
Two of these emerging developments are:
* Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has also been used to treat trauma. Although not a new form of treatment (EMDR has been around since 1987), the treatment has grown in popularity since celebrities like Prince Harry spoke about its use.
* BWRT or Brainworking Recursive Therapy is gaining momentum. BrainWorking Recursive Therapy is an innovative new concept of psychotherapy that works with the latest developments in neuroscience, particularly related to the functioning of the limbic system. BWRT works on the interval between initiating an action and becoming aware, reprogramming the neural pathways responsible for the triggers that trigger memories of past traumas and the body’s reactions to them in the form of panic attacks and anxiety.
“The beauty of BWRT is that it works well with all ages and because it works so quickly and effectively it is now actively researched,” says Scordillis. “Working quickly makes it affordable. Few people have unlimited funds (even those on medical aids) for therapy. This means that a quick and effective form of treatment is much needed and sought after.
“I know that many of my BWRT colleagues are inundated with requests for therapy and the BWRT family of therapists are very good at referring patients as needed. Recursive brain work therapy is particularly effective in treating anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress.”
With so many people around the world in desperate need of emotional support during these difficult times, let’s hope the mental health profession will welcome the incorporation of these changes. We also hope that as a result of these new developments, mental health will be de-stigmatized. More importantly, let’s hope that professional advice will become available to everyone and that help for anxiety, panic attacks and depression will no longer be the luxury we are given.