Could COVID-19 accelerate improvements in mental health and wellbeing? - COVID-19 blog | Deloitte Australia has been saved
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The COVID-19 pandemic has both highlighted and worsened the world’s underlying mental health challenges. Prolonged social isolation, loss of employment, financial stress, increased trauma for essential workers, increased severity for existing conditions and anxiety about us and our loved ones acquiring COVID-19 have placed a tremendous strain on all of us., Government agencies around the world have warned that a wave of depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and other mental ill-health issues could be on the horizon as a result of the pandemic., . Prior to COVID-19, an estimated 1 in 4 people experienced a significant mental illness at some point in life, and about 1 in 5 working-age adults were affected by mild-to-moderate disorders at any given moment. These challenges are now being exacerbated. Mental distress during the pandemic is three times higher than it was in 2018.
Prior to COVID-19, we projected that by 2040 there would be far more emphasis on early detection and prevention strategies for mental and wellbeing issues compared to today. The recent health crisis, however, likely accelerated that timeline by 10 years or more.
Our work on Disruptive Technologies in Mental Health with the World Economic Forum shows a convergence of social, political, and technological disruptions is increasing many societies’ acceptance of, and strategies for, mental ill-health, even whilst others argue that these structural changes are to blame for increasing prevalence. While this transforming landscape will look different for mental health organisations, health providers, and major employer groups, we expect that some of the same six drivers of change will help shape mental and wellbeing health in the post-pandemic era:
Hospitals and health systems, community and government organisations, and employers have different perspectives about where mental health is headed, and how it will get there. Providers, for example, are seeing more care shift from the inpatient setting to the outpatient setting, and now toward more virtual care. Community organisations are increasingly focused on prevention and resilience building activities; and employers are beginning to consider mental health and wellbeing as essential to maintaining the health and productivity of their employees. Over the long run, we anticipate that stakeholders will work with federal and state government and regulators to address mental health needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian bushfires, and 2020’s numerous other challenges, have shined a spotlight on mental health and wellbeing like never before. These crises may also be accelerating the process of change toward a world in which prevention, resilience, early detection, and effective treatment will enable far more people to maintain their health while reducing stigma and discrimination.
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Dr Stephanie Allen is the Global Health leader for Deloitte. She is also a Member of the Deloitte Australian Executive. A Consulting Partner, with over 25 years' experience, she leads our most strategic or complex health care projects globally. Stephanie has worked across the public and private sectors; across health policy makers, payers and providers and with new market entrants such as technology & data companies, retail & transport organisations, as well as health start-ups. Stephanie leads our pre-eminent work on the 'Future of Health'. This explores global market trends to 2040, the use of innovative technologies, new pricing models, disruptive entrants, new models of care and the health workforce of the future. Stephanie was also appointed to the World Economic Forum Futures Council on Health & Healthcare and Healthy Ageing & Longevity. She is the lead Partner on the multi-year collaboration programs Deloitte is undertaking with the World Economic Forum on disruptive technologies and mental health and with the International Hospital Federation on sustainability & climate in health care. Stephanie also led our work with the Word Health Organization on the design and delivery of the COVID Recovery dashboard. This dashboard brings together health, economic and social data in real time to enable countries to make more informed decisions on the impact of government interventions across multiple dimensions. Prior to becoming a consultant, Stephanie led national reform programs in the health, social care and criminal justice sectors across the UK and Europe. She holds a Joint Honors Degree, a Master of Science, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford.