The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous strain on public health systems and healthcare workers. While the virus has resulted in a growing need for mental health services globally, in Africa funding for much needed mental health services was either disrupted or halted as a result of the pandemic.

Mental health conditions on the continent are often not addressed as a result of the stigma attached to mental illness, coupled with a lack of government budget. Even prior to the pandemic, the continent had one of the lowest mental health public expenditure rates globally.

However, there is hope in the fact that a growing number of studies have shown that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine results in significant improvements in mental health. This is primarily due to the fact that vaccinations have proved to reduce the risks associated with contracting Covid-19, which in turns lessens general anxiety. Those who are vaccinated are increasingly reporting reduced anxiety and depression compared to those who choose not to get vaccinated.

“It changed the way we live, socialise and work, disrupting vital aspects of our lives. These changes have had a massive impact on our emotional well-being. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and anxiety have triggered mental health conditions and exacerbated exiting ones. Around the world, mental health started to become a growing concern for people irrespective of age, demographics or income groups,” said Mimi Kalinda, a communications professional.

Around the world businesses, restaurants, airlines and other public establishments are starting to check people’s vaccination status, with entry reserved for those who are vaccinated. Kalinda adds that it is likely that the civil liberties taken for granted in a pre-pandemic world will only be returned to us if we are all vaccinated.