The new paper produced by the MASC consortium titled “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health care and people with mental health conditions in Ethiopia: the MASC mixed-methods study” is currently under review at BMC. Some of the preliminary results indicated that despite national level recognition of mental health as a key aspect of pandemic response, this was not translated into action on the ground initially.
Mental health-related stigma and discrimination was evident. Scarce mental health service settings were diverted to become COVID-19 treatment centres. Mental health care became narrowly biomedical with poorer quality of care due to infrequent follow-up. Households of people with pre-existing mental health conditions in the community reported worsening poverty and decreased access to care due to restricted movement, decreased availability and fear. Lack of reliable medication supplies increased relapse and the chance of becoming chained at home, abandoned or homeless. Caregiver burden was exacerbated. Within mental health facilities, prisons and residential units, infection control procedures did not adequately safeguard those with mental health conditions. Meanwhile, the needs of people with mental health conditions in COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facilities were systematically neglected. Only late in the day were integrated services developed to address both physical and mental health needs.