Mental Health Issues due to COVID-19 | iAmEars: Safe place to speak your heart and get community support
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Debamita Banerjee

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Mental Health Issues due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has turned our whole lives upside down. The repercussion as far as the physical health of the population is concerned are obvious and disheartening, but it's also taken a toll on the economy, social life, and education of all. 

When the first wave hit, most of us were shocked and traumatized by the destruction around us. But now that the second wave is here, there's a widespread resignation. The loss of hope for the future can eat a community up quicker than any disease. Hence, mental health is one of the massively concerning by-products of the pandemic. The medical professionals who are supposed to be saving people have had to take the brunt of it tremendously.  

At times like these, we must increase our awareness regarding mental health issues and acknowledge their strain on individuals of all ages.   

Psychological Impact of COVID-19

The pandemic has shown an unprecedented surge in cases of various mental illnesses worldwide. According to WHO, mental health services have been disrupted in 93% of countries worldwide during such a vulnerable period. It's a crisis that's been overlooked and needs special attention to keep us all going during the battle against Coronavirus.    

Here are a few ways COVID-19 has impacted the general populace psychologically.  

Stress and Anxiety 

Stress and anxiety are both reactions of our body when put under mental, physical, or emotional danger. The COVID-19 pandemic has rampant fear and distress. People are worried about the safety of themselves and their loved ones, their livelihood, and the efficacy of the treatment options. 

It's surfaced in the young and old alike. Everybody is not only worried about the ongoing disease but wary of how their whole lives have come to a halt. People are seemingly anxious about the permanence of this state as multiple waves of virus keep coming up.  

Loss of Hope Amongst the Youth

In a recent survey in the UK of participants aged 13-25, 67% of the respondents believed that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on their mental health. They have enough ground to be feeling so. Schools, colleges, and universities have been shut down for over a year now. Online education is a noble effort on the part of the institutions but it hasn't been particularly potent. Fresh graduates are finding it hard to land a job as the economy slows down.   

For children aged 3-8, it's supposed to be the most innocently joyful period of their lives, but staying locked up in homes and staring at the screens could be inhibiting their creativity, imagination, and social skills.

Uprise in Addiction Problems 

People often use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms. Because of staying at home all day, alone in a lot of cases, past addicts are returning to old habits and new people are increasingly developing addiction issues. Before the pandemic, due to our social lives, people would often point out if somebody was slipping into addiction and hold them accountable for it but now, it's much easier for addicts to cross the line without any warnings. 

Depression  

Depression is a mood disorder that forces a person to feel blue, sad, hopeless, grief, and hatred for themselves. Cases of depression have been increasing extensively globally because people are demoralized and despondent regarding the future. A lot of us have lost somebody we love to the pandemic. The grief and helplessness of it all can get to anybody.  

Frontline workers who have been working day and night to diminish the destruction have been clear victims. Despite all their efforts, healthcare workers are having to watch patients die every day. Morticians and cleaning staff have to clean up after the death and decay which is tiring them out not only physically but also emotionally.  

Greater appreciation is required for all essential workers everywhere.  

Loneliness  

Millions haven't met their families in over a year. Not being able to interact with people face to face is leading to pent-up emotions for all of us. When the going gets tough, we rely on our communities for support. A heartfelt conversation or a simple hug can make a person feel so much despite what issue they're going through. But, as a result of the pandemic, not only are people upset but they're also unable to share their feelings. Prolonged loneliness and isolation are injurious to mental well-being and it is driving numerous people to take drastic steps such as self-harm.   

Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

The pandemic is forcing all of us to stay inside at all times and avoid physical contact with other human beings. As unnatural as that might feel, you can practice methods that help you get used to this new rhythm of life and avoid unnecessary panic. These tips can also help you get out of any slumps you might be in so that you can make the most of this secluded time to focus on your personal goals and serve the community in whatever way you can.    

Try to Stay Connected to Your Loved Ones 

Everybody fares differently when subjected to isolation, but whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, try to reach out to your family and friends at least once in a while. Humans are social animals and the lack of conversation can be detrimental to your mental health. Additionally, relationships require communication to keep thriving. As much as you're trying to balance your own life, you need to make sure that your loved ones are staying afloat too.    

Voice or video calling people instead of texting would be preferable but pick a mode of communication that fits your needs. Try to take advantage of the wide range of apps and online resources available. Staying at the same place and doing the same things over and over again might leave you with no topics to talk about, so opt for virtually watching movies together or reading the same book so that you can discuss it later.  

Get some Sunlight and Fresh Air  

The lockdown indeed bars us all from going outside, but we need to find ways to get fresh air and sunlight. Stand on your balcony or take a walk on the terrace. If that's not viable for you, then just open up the windows of your house for a while. Being in touch with nature will help you freshen up and clear your mind.  

Consume Only Reliable Information 

There's a huge flow of fake rumors and news considering coronavirus, the vaccination procedure, and its impact all around. Steer clear of such baseless information as it'll further fuel your anxiety and panic without any genuine cause.  

The virus cannot be cured using home remedies. You might be able to build up your immunity through the consumption of specific foods, but that's about it. Hence, do not overindulge in ditzy quick fixes. These will yield no results and leave you disappointed. Only trust formal medical guidelines to battle any symptoms that might arise.  

Make a Financial Plan  

The Pandemic has taken a toll on a lot of people's financial security. If you've incurred high expenses, lost your source of income, or are finding it much more difficult to get a job, systematically plan out how you expect to survive the coming months and generate funds for your sustenance. It might scare you out a little initially, but it'll only help you once you have an organized strategy. You'll feel a lot less stressed and be better able to manage whatever financial circumstances you're in.

Minimize the Consumption of Media if it gets Too Much  

As much as it is important to stay informed about the current situation across the country, it is undeniable that it can bring your spirit down to see death, pain, and negativity all the time. Do not feel guilty about limiting how much you watch the news or stay active on social media. If you can't fix any problems by staying updated, at least safeguard your sanity. Help people locally rather than focusing on the bigger issues you're incapable of solving.

Get a Schedule

Just because you're at home doesn't mean you use your time vicariously. Set specific times for sleep, work and relaxation. Discipline will help you not only stay on track with your work, but it'll also balance your internal cycles. Being organized will give you a purpose to chase instead of worrying about just the situation outside.  

Do things that Make You Happy

You could pick up a new hobby or just lay back and pamper yourself. You need to find activities that can lift your mood even in bad times to make yourself less susceptible to excessive stress. Try to look at the positive side of the situation, as hard as that might be. Write, paint, watch movies or read books. The bottoming is that it must make you feel rejuvenated.    

Help Others As much as You can  

We all have our limitations but together, we can bring out big changes. The best therapy for you would be to do your part in the battle against the pandemic. Donate if you can, encourage people around if they feel down, spread awareness, or volunteer. When you see yourself making a positive impact on the people around you, you'll automatically feel better.

 

When social connections have become so sparse face-to-face, you can find it difficult to express and let out your feelings. Having a safe place where you can vent out your negative thoughts and emotions can be very helpful in such tough times. Visit iAmEars to find a platform where you can be candid about your mental health issues and anything that's bothering you. The experts and medical professionals on our panel will provide you appropriate advice for your problems. You can interact in support groups with people going through similar issues as yours to find empathy and consideration. iAmEars also provides you the opportunity to sign up for online counseling sessions with experienced counselors and psychiatrists. 

Conclusion

The pandemic has had dire consequences on people worldwide. Extend a helping hand to anybody that you're capable of assisting while taking the right precautions, but remember that first and foremost, you're responsible for your personal well-being.  

Do not feel guilty if the negativity is getting to you, give yourself time and space to absorb things at your own pace. Humanity has survived insurmountable natural disasters and this shall pass too. Rather than just lamenting over the situation, try to adapt to it for future ease. There's going to be dawn after this period filled with darkness soon.  

In the video linked below, renowned psychiatrist Dr. Ashish Mittal provides information about the various psychological impacts of COVID-19.  

REFERENCES

  1. COVID-19 disrupting mental health services in most countries, WHO survey - https://www.who.int/news/item/05-10-2020-covid-19-disrupting-mental-health-services-in-most-countries-who-survey
  2. Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs- https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/