COVID-19 pandemic encompasses not only the threat of infection, but also the psychological, social and economic effects of quarantine, self-isolation and lock down measures, all of which
affect the most vulnerable in society disproportionately. This is especially true of those who live in care homes, psychiatric hospitals and other forms of residential institution.
Mental health policies and legislations if duly enacted will solve challenges of mentally challenged persons in Nigeria and ensure their survival, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This essay seeks to point out the psychological effects of COVID-19 and how mental health legislations and policies can help curb these effects.
DEFINITION OF TERMINOLOGIES
Mental Health Legislation: According to World Health Organization (WHO), a mental health policy is an official statement by a government or health authority that provides the overall
direction for mental health by defining a vision, values, principles, and objectives, and by establishing a broad model for action to achieve that vision. It is important because it coordinates,
through a common vision, all programs and services related to mental health.
Covid-19 Pandemic: Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Corona Virus 2 (Sara cov-2). The outbreak was first identified in December 2019, in China. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a public
health emergency of international concern on 30th of January 2020, and recognized it as a pandemic on the 11th March, 2020.
Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health.: COVID-19 impact on every aspect of people’s lives can hardly be overestimated. No groups are more at risk from the impacts than those who live in care homes, psychiatric hospitals and other forms of residential institution. The WHO Mental Health, Human Rights and Standards of Care report describes adult with psychological and intellectual disabilities living in institutions in the WHO regions as “highly marginalized, vulnerable group whose quality of life, human rights and re-inclusion in society
are compromised by outdated and often inhumane institution practices”. Overcrowding and lack of facilities for personal and environmental hygiene, insufficient isolation and cohosting facilities and inadequate numbers of supervising staff, mean infection prevention and control measures may be compromised in some institutions due to lack of mental health legislations and policies.