Mental Health During Pandemic

“A sound mind has a sound body.” Since our brain is the center of giving all commands and absorbing every piece of information. It is a dire need to have a sound mind. Every episode in life has an impact on a person and his life. The impact is positive or negative, it cannot be completely neutral. Everyone has a dark side or a weak side. No one can survive alone. Even a person in the woods depends on the forest biosphere. Everyone needs help in some or another way. 

In this century we have a sky-touching growth in a lot of things. Digitalization, pollution, global warming, degrading food, water, stress, anxiety, and life quality index. These things affect our lives in a lot of negative ways directly and indirectly. All these lead to a surge in mental health problems. Many developed countries and developing countries spend less than 2% on mental health care.

The most common mental health issues are Suicidal tendencies, Addiction, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Eating Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, Stress.

Imagining that amid a pandemic. The pandemic has bought a new spectrum of reasons for mental health problems. It is the instinct of a human being to respond to insecurities, real threats, and even uncertainty with anxiety, stress, worrying, acute restlessness. With the hitting of the pandemic, the existing mental health care has been disrupted. 

A survey conducted across 130 countries by the WHO, shows the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the access to mental health services and an urgent need for increased funding. Due to the pandemic, the arrangement has been thrown into disarray. These all include the following.

  1. More than a third have disruptions to emergency situations. Those include people experiencing prolonged seizures, withdrawal syndromes, delirium a sign of some serious underlying medical condition. 

  2. More than 50% have observed a shakeup in counseling and psychotherapy.

  3. Recovering addicts and treatments for opioid dependence. 

  4. Many conditions like neurological and substance disorders require medication access.

  5. Many women require antenatal and postnatal attention which are not taken care of.

  6. Schools and workplaces also address and offer mental health solutions based on the behavior in the respective places. 

Though many countries have adopted telemedicine and teletherapy to overcome the one-to-one services. The high-income countries can afford a digital architecture easily but the low-income countries can only provide less than 50% of the above facilities. 

POOR MENTAL HEALTH DUE TO ECONOMIC RECESSION

This alone is a burden to handle but the COVID-19 has started an era of economic recession. Companies were forced to cut off staff, minimum wage workers suffered the most. A humongous amount of massive job loss and isolation leads to stress due to fear and poverty. It has adversely affected the mental health of people. Not only that barriers and lockdowns forcing people into their houses is helping worsen the situation. A survey shows that 4 in 10 adults are suffering anxiety and depressive disorders. Poor mental health affects the overall well-being of the person. Lack of sleep, eating disorders, worsening chronic conditions, over usage of drugs and alcohol. 

Both those newly experiencing mental health or substance abuse disorders and those already diagnosed before the pandemic may require mental health and substance use services but could face additional barriers due to the pandemic.

STRESS AFFECTING ALL AGE GROUPS

Due to the pandemic people have been trapped in their houses with practically no interaction with the outside world. This alone is capable of making a person crazy enough. We get our news and interaction with the devices and no real meeting. Although technologies of video chatting and calls over the internet have helped a lot. But again there is excessive use of digital devices also affects the cognitive skills of an individual.
All the schools and universities have shut down and weren’t operating on the online mode for quite some time. This led to an ideal mind for students, in turn leading to SAD(Stress Anxiety Depression). 

Young adults (18-24) are anyway more prone to mental health problems than adults. The pandemic keeps heating up the situation. Young adults have 25% substance use and 26% suicidal thoughts. On the other hand, adults have 13% substance use reports and 11% suicidal thoughts. 

Parents are concerned about the health, future, education, and overall well-being of their children due to the pandemic.  Researchers and analysts say, parents, particularly mothers have mental health issues due to poor childcare and school closures. Women with children are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders than men with children.

The lower middle class and the poor people face a lot of issues obtaining essential home supplies. It may seem to be a trivial matter but this leads to a lot of stress on people to earn and procure their bread.

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS

Many essential workers continue to face physical challenges along with estranged families. They work through the idea of contracting the COVID virus more than anyone. Working crazy hours and minimal resources and self-care routine doesn’t do any justice to their mental healthcare. Compared to non-essential workers, essential workers have far more symptoms of SAD (Sad, Anxiety, Depression). Essential workers have to follow several safety protocols. They need to wear PPE kits and double layers of masks just for work. These extreme conditions add to claustrophobia in many of them. Under essential workers, first responders have it way rough. Not to mention the amount of sadness and depression they are around. They see an average of 8-9 deaths on a daily basis. The horrific pictures in front of them, and turning away patients when hospitals reach maximum capacities. 

As essential workers go through crazy working hours, they have no time to access the existing facilities for mental health. Thus even they are prone to harmful means to blow off the steam. They tend to rely on faster techniques like tobacco or nicotine drug usage.

We are no novice to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and not for good. Many of us are facing challenges in controlling our reactions. These challenges make us agitative, stressed, overwhelming, and rise of strong emotions in adults and even children who have no economic burden. Radical public health, such as complete lockdowns, social distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But they make most of us feel isolated, lonely and boredom struck. 

We binge-watching TV series to overcome boredom and the depressing news of deaths around the world. We stick with the laptop for every and all activities for the entire day at a stretch. Urban areas were anyway more affected due to the advancement of technology and the rise of the digital era. The lockdowns have increased the number of neuropsychiatric disorders. These include all the disorders due to too many video games and their violence.

Anxiety and depression also have been creeping through due to being love-struck. Many couples had to part ways forever due to the pandemic. Many couples had to undergo separation for months at a stretch. Many were essential workers and many were due to rapid lockdowns nationwide. One cannot describe the loss of a loved one. Many people with travel-oriented jobs were stuck thousands of miles away from their homes. All this sudden loss and insecurity again leads to the spiraling down of a mentally stable person.
If not spiraling it can lead to a lot of stress. 

Stress causes the following :

  1. Agitation, frustration, sadness, anger, worry, fear, going numb.

  2. Stress eating of comforting food(junk food)

  3. Difficulty in sleeping or nightmares, insomnia in acute cases

  4. Increased use of nicotine, alcohol, drugs

  5. Difficulty in concentrating and making decisions or an opposite case of reckless decisions and expenditure.

  6. A complete change in appetite, feeling lethargic or way too energetic, desires, and interests

  7. Worsening mental health conditions 

  8. Worsening chronic health problems

  9. Physical reactions like headache, stomach pains, body aches, and skin rashes

We all know we can go back to the way things were short. There cannot be a change in our lifestyle in any way soon. All we can do is have good faith and try to peace and calm ourselves in every way possible. Here are some ways to improve the conditions for ourselves at an individual level.

WAYS TO IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH CARE

  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.

  2.  Take care of your body, self-care is an important tool. It implicates self-love and less loathing over the fact of being helpless. 

  1. Take deep breaths and stretches. Stretches help to break the tension building up in the muscles. 

  2. Get plenty of sleep.

  3. Meditation for at least 20 mins 

  1. Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.

  2. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

  3. Exercise regularly.

  4. Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.

  5. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  6. Connect with others. Talk with people and have a healthy outlet of feelings.

  7. You trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

  8. Explore your talent. Time and effort can unveil a lot of things

  9. Continue with routine preventive measures as recommended by your healthcare provider. And as for home remedies, Pranayam is a wonderful exercise for lung cleansing and peace of mind.

  10. Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Other than that the WHO and the countries are trying to alarm and provide as much as they can. Applications have been built to keep a check on our anxiety levels and other mental health problems. There are over 10000 apps on mental health.

Some of the mental healthcare apps are notOK for suicide prevention. For Addiction Quit That! – Habit Tracker, Twenty-Four Hours a Day. For anxiety there are many but the popular ones are Mindshift, SAM, and CBT Thought Record Diary. Bipolar Disorder Apps – IMoodJournal, eMoods. Depression Apps – Talkspace Online Therapy, Happify. Eating Disorder Apps – Rise and Recover, Recovery Record. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Apps – nOCD

 
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