As the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, a number of socio-economic and public health vulnerabilities have been exposed. These vulnerabilities range from student equity and job uncertainty to overwhelmed healthcare systems – each of which can impact mental health.

Mental health problems remain a leading cause of disability worldwide and cost society billions of dollars annually – due to lost productivity, service costs and early mortality – with estimates suggesting that unaddressed mental health needs could result in losses approaching $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The Covid-19 pandemic amplifies the existing mental health crisis due to complex psychosocial stressors such as loneliness, stigma and bereavement. In this regard, the philanthropic sector has mobilized in excess of $20 billion to help support long-term challenges related to the pandemic including mental health problems.

As 2021 unfolds, the need to harness global philanthropy as a sustainable opportunity to quell the psychological impact of Covid-19 will be vital.

An unintended consequence of lockdown has been a slew of mental health disorders ranging from anxiety and substance abuse to suicidal behaviour. It is also known that lockdown has dramatically compounded domestic abuse among vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Strict lockdown measures have resulted in an unfortunate setback on hard earned progress in the SDGs related to poverty (SDG 1), hunger (SDG 2), and inequality (SDG 10) – which contribute to mental wellbeing – particularly among disadvantaged populations including refugees, ethnic minorities and communities living in low-and middle-income countries.

Fortunately, philanthropic vehicles including the Sustainable Development Goals Philanthropy platform provide an effective networking tool for key stakeholders to engage, collaborate and share knowledge to help attain the SDGs.

A number of mental health charities around the world (e.g., Strong Minds) have expanded their efforts to improve access to mental health treatment and support during the Covid-19 crisis. One relatively new player in this space, Pivotal Ventures (A Melinda Gates Company), is looking to provide mental health and digital wellbeing resources for young people and their caregivers.

Read the full article about philanthropy and mental health during COVID-19 by Byron Bitanihirwe at Alliance Magazine.