– Dr. Pradeep Singh
Much of the focus of measuring the toll of COVID-19 has been on tabulating cases and deaths, but what do we know about the dire consequences of the pandemic on mental health?
Whether you worry about yourself, family, friends, or co-workers, there’s no getting away from the fear of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. Ongoing fear is a symptom of anxiety, which in turn affects your appetite, causes sleep problems, and significantly impacts your ability to cope with your daily life. Staying at home should relieve some of your fears about getting sick, but isolation comes with its own fallout. Even if you’re at home with family, the reality of social isolation can still trigger loneliness, sadness, and anxiety.
Closure of economic activity, lockdowns, and other restrictions have resulted in job losses or severe reduction of incomes, especially among segments of the population that depend on daily wages and day-to-day earnings. This has led to increased rates of depression, hopelessness, and suicides across middle and lower economic sections as well as the economically weak sections, who have been pushed into abject poverty. On the other hand, Being home-bound in such a high-stress scenario has also taken a toll on children’s mental health. The general uncertainty and separation from peers causes great strain on the psychological well-being of these children, with younger ones being more prone to anxiety, worry, withdrawal and older ones prone to anger, frustration, and emotional outburst. Uncertainty related to studies and exams has also caused panic and worry in children of all age groups.
If noticed, this epidemic has caused a lot of damage to human life. But a good thing also came out in the pit of this crisis. In difficult times, people supported each other wholeheartedly. By forgetting mutual differences, they supported each other. In this hour of crisis, this spirit of the people proved to be the biggest and the people affected by the epidemic got the courage to face the crisis. The society which earlier looked like a divided one now looked like a family. People in metro cities are ready to help everyone. Perhaps this was the same Indian tradition about which we had only heard, but the hour of this crisis also showed it.
Good mental health is an important national asset in its own right. Thus the impacts of the pandemic on mental health could lead to a longer-term erosion of people’s physical health, further affecting their ability to lead fulfilling lives. Investing in mental health enables each individual to regain hope for the future. It will also contribute to making societies healthier, economically productive, and socially cohesive. There cannot be a more important investment in the face of the most serious crisis to test the global population in a century. Let’s work together to realize our shared mission.