World Health Organization

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people around the world while also raising concerns of increased suicidal behaviour. In addition access to mental health services has been severely impeded. However, no comprehensive summary of the current data on these impacts has until now been made widely available.

This scientific brief is based on evidence from research commissioned by WHO, including an umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses and an update to a living systematic review. Informed by these reviews, the scientific brief provides a comprehensive overview of current evidence about:

  1. the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the prevalence of mental health symptoms and mental disorders;
  2. the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behaviours;
  3. the risk of infection, severe illness and death from COVID-19 for people living with mental disorders;
  4. the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health services;
  5. the effectiveness of psychological interventions adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent or reduce mental health problems and/or maintain access to mental health services.

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