Eleni Panagiotakopoulou, Team Leader of the Psychological Support – Counseling Service,
Athens Solidarity Center, SolidarityNow
This year’s celebration of the World Mental Health Day is more important than ever. After a year and a half of humanity’s war against the coronavirus, we no longer doubt the importance of mental health, both individually and socially.
During the pandemic, we recall news related to the increase of psychotropic drug use and the reports on the increased number of suicides. At the same time, if one searches for online data related to the use of psychotropic drugs in Greece or the number of suicides -successful or not- or even if one observed the rise of anxiety disorder incidents and mood disorders (e.g., depression), he would find very few reports and studies processing this data. We believe that we need to seriously address the insufficient attention to mental health issues. And even more today, after a year and a half of struggle with the pandemic.
One of the worldwide serious effects of the COVID-19 outbreak is that it brought to light existing inequalities due to race and ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as due to mental health problems. This exacerbation can only give birth to and foster a negative impact on people’s mental health. Unfortunately, one of the key inequalities is access to mental health services.
Nonetheless, access to mental health services offers countless benefits to the society. They initially contribute to the improvement of the people’s overall health, then to the indiscriminate integration of everyone and last but not least to the minimization of social discord and upheaval.
That’s why our work inspires us. The Psychological Support-Counseling Service of the Athens Solidarity Center by SolidarityNow is a service open to all those who need it. We are proud that so many people trust us and give us the opportunity to stand by their side. We believe that today, above all, we must embrace diversity and show that apparent weakness is a disguised strength. And we will make it through our greatest weapon, Solidarity.
*From 1/7/2021 till 30/6/2022, Kahane Foundation supports the Psychosocial service of the Athens Solidarity Center.
**From 1/8/2021 till 31/7/2022, the Athens Solidarity Center’s operation is supported through a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) in the framework of its global COVID-19 Relief Initiative.