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Confronted with an increase in mental illness in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government Council for Mental Health has discussed a new set of measures to tackle the issue:  prevention, affordability and access to care took center stage in the discussion. Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.

Czech Rep. Nov. 7 (BD) – The coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted almost all aspects of our lives, from our social habits to the way we work and learn. Millions of people have seen their daily routines disrupted since Spring. Many suffered and are still suffering from the consequences of the disease, and many have faced the loss of loved ones. It doesn’t come as a surprise that there has been an evident increase in mental health problems – research in the Czech Republic shows a two- to three-fold increase in the prevalence of anxiety, depression and suicide in connection with the pandemic. 

Confronted with this painful reality, the Czech government has decided to act. An extraordinary meeting of the Government Council for Mental Health took place on November 4th in the presence of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, where it was decided to launch an information and support campaign for mental health, as well as boosting assistance to provide affordable psychosocial support for people in need.

“Mental health is extremely important, it’s another crucial thing in managing a pandemic. I would like to remind all who may need it that the first psychiatric helpline is in operation at the line 1221, which also serves as help for people with psychological problems associated with the effects of the coronavirus epidemic. I will propose further strengthening of crisis lines by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, especially focused on the child population. We will involve other teams of psychologists in support of the general population and coordinate inter-ministerial cooperation for work at the regional level,” said Babiš.

Special attention was dedicated to the younger population, as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports promised to emphasize the role of schools in intervention and information regarding mental illness.

Moreover, Babiš suggested that further preventive measures should be taken in the near future: 

“I will also propose to create a grant program for private therapists who have completed five years of accredited psychotherapy training, so that they can provide therapy to people in need for free. Interventions will be limited to ten sessions and exempt from the restrictions in force in a crisis situation,” added the Prime Minister.

A free support line for psychological assistance has been set up. It operates at 1221 and serves as the first point of contact for those in need of help. The line is also available in English from anywhere in the Czech Republic on weekdays from 8am to 7pm and on weekends from 9am to 4:30pm. – https://koronavirus.mzcr.cz/en/important-phone-numbers/.

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