Psychiatrist, Dr. Odille Chang says mental health is deemed to be the next pandemic and investing even less than 1% of the National Budget in this field will have an impact on dealing with the issue.
While speaking to accountants during the Fiji Institute of Accountants Seminar on Managing Stress During COVID-19, Dr. Chang says that 1% will be for operational purposes so there is a need to invest and getting into the community and advocating on mental health issues.
She adds that everyone knows how important it is but there is a need to put money towards it to help people get better.
The Psychiatrist has also highlighted that mental health needs to be a priority for employees because people are spending most of their woken days at their workplace.
Dr. Chang says our mental health is what makes us function and if this is impacted then individuals will not be as productive.
She adds that she has noted increased cases of depression, anxiety and substance abuse during the period of lockdown.
She has also highlighted that the reduced price of alcohol has also had an impact and they are seeing an increase in consumption of alcohol because people are using alcohol to cope and manage their stress but this is not an appropriate way.
Dr. Chang says alcohol consumption and even other substances do relax the person in the short term but it causes other social, physical and mental health problems.
Dr. Chang adds that there is a need to have a study on the impact of COVID-19 on stress levels and the economy which will guide policy-makers on where the funds and investments must go.
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