President Trump will damage the international efforts to research and react to illness and disease all over the world. Specifically he will damage mental health concerns in a time when more, and not less, mental health is needed. In a tweet on April 14th President Trump notified the world that he will halt funding for WHO. WHO provides mental health resources to the international community. They provide direction and guidance to governments to create and maintain their mental health programs. They even provide quarterly news letters that bring mental health current events from all over the world to the attention of it’s readers. In a time when the world is in a crisis and more mental health concerns are expected, to eliminate funding into it’s research and exploration needs to be reconsidered.
President Trump believes that the World Health Organization (WHO) failed to appropriately react to the COVID19 crisis. He has decided that the WHO, seen by him as China-centric and too politically correct according to Fox News, would have funding cut completely. This decision, a possible attempt to shift blame from his administrations own reaction to the COVID19 crisis (see Time article), seems reactionary and does not take into account the volume of work that the WHO does. It does not measure the impact it will have on mental health.
The mental health impact of COVID19 cannot be understated. It has already been explored by Reuters in their article form April 3rd, “Researchers warn the COVID-19 lockdown will take its own toll on health”. Not only do they discuss “Soaring Suicide” and increases in Domestic Violence, they explore the impact on vulnerable populations such as students and those who have lost their jobs. In the United States we do have the National Institute of Health (NIH) providing mental health guidance as well as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers. While the United States has these resources other nations may rely on WHO for their mental health information. The United States needs to continue to act as a leader in the world by ensuring organizations like the WHO have the funding they need to serve other nations mental health needs.
Timothy D Vermillion, DSW, LCSW, BCD