As you know Covid 19 very recently was declared a Global Pandemic or in other words a global health emergency. The Scare of Covid 19 is such that in countries where it is escalating, they are calling out for institutional shutdown of schools, events, and social gathering places. To put it simply governments are calling for lockdown of cities and places. At this point I think because of all the fear and tension that is built up, talking about how mental health and calamity affects us is of the utmost importance. Todays’ article is an attempt to bring to light the covid 19 (the pandemic) and mental issues arising from it.
But before that lets address how dangerous is Covid 19,
Covid 19 is a viral RNA, which belongs to Corona family of viruses which causes illness like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and for that matter even common cold (flu) belongs to this family, the Corona Family.
COVID 19 : stands for CoronaVirus Disease 2019
You should be wondering if it belongs to the same family of MERS and SARS why not a name similar to it. WHO (World Health Organization) when Naming nCOV 19 took a different approach. It did not want stress and hysteria to be built up. Hence, Covid 19 was selected as the name.
This means WHO recognizes the mental and psychological impacts of such epidemics. It has learnt from its past experiences of naming such diseases a certain way can lead to other Psychological impact.
You could be wondering how Covid 19 is related to mental health and concerns. My answer, Precisely everything.
It could cause :
- Panic among people
- Rumor spreading (Digital media or otherwise)
- Stress among people due to lack of knowledge or otherwise.
- Forced Social Isolation
- Disturbing eat or sleep cycles
- Impact on children and elderly
- Prospecting mothers and those who breastfeed
- Stress/ tension/ irritation
For all the above stated maladies making yourself aware about the COVID 19 can definitely help. Think about it this way COVID 19 is your enemy. The more you know the better are your chances of winning.
Here, I would like to make a very important point that please do not rely on whatsapp messages or social media for your source of information on this subject. There are good chances they turn out to be bogus/false/misinformation. In Fact even in many newspapers have erroneously mentioned details and advisory which were yet not established by the research community.
The problem with such type of information is that these false news on social media can give more stress and tension. It can also lead to panic or scare among people. Hence, in many ways it can adversely impact your mental health. Fact checking is important. Make sure its comes from a credible source. But still in my opinion visit govt websites or WHO for credible information over it.
To better inform yourself please visit WHO
Or you could visit GOI Health ministry website
It Contains :
- Helpline number
- Guideline for social distancing
- Guidelines for home quarantine,
- Do’s and Don’t
- Comic Book for children to explain them better about disease spread and precautions.
Also, other guidelines and advisories are present.
Mental Health, at the time of Global Pandemic (Covid 19), is of absolute importance.
Let’s talk mental health issues concerning a certain class/category/type of people who are more susceptible to mental stress caused by Covid 19.
They can be susceptible to a range of stress indicators from headaches to mild fevers, sleep habits, crying, irritation, excessive worrying, erratic behavior etc.
WHO recommends parents, to talk to their children to make them aware about the problem and concerns arising from it. Limiting their time of tv and social media viewing. Try to keep regular routines and routine checks on children and help eliminate any fears rising out of it.
Responders and Security (Nurses, Doctors, Healthcare people, Screening or security personnel)
Such events can definitely take a toll on people who are employed in management and mitigation of the epidemic. WHO recommends that such individuals other than having higher risk of contraction also go through psychological stresses. Adequate measure and training of the staff should be done to minimize risks. Also, those working should ask for help or assistance if they feel stressed/overwhelmed.
Elderly and vulnerable people :
Other than above stated, I think sensitivity and cautiousness should be maintained if you live with elderly and those suffering from diabetes, asthmatic, cancer and other diseases or otherwise. Students and parents can both make concerted efforts to eliminate any fears and make aware vulnerable groups to practice social distancing and good hygiene.
These groups form the most vulnerable group in terms of fatality. Subsequently we have data on mortality rate among different age groups but same cannot be said about those who are suffering from cancer, diabetics, asthma etc. To give an idea let’s look at mortality rate among age group, here it is :
Apart from mental health concerns there are some concerns which draw out from psychosocial attitude or behavior :
In my opinion, it can give rise to Xenophobia and Social anxiety (or Fear/panic among people). Xenophobia can give rise racial discrimination, attacks on foreigners and other forms of brutalities. Whereas Social anxiety is self debilitating and leads to social disruptions.
There have already been cases in Europe and other parts of the world about racist behavior towards people of Asian origin. Jonathan Mok, a 23-year-old from Singapore, expressed on social media how he was allegedly attacked while walking down Oxford Street in central London on February 24. Very recently, the President of the USA has called it a China virus. Even the Internet has called his naming as racist. Also, there is a case which came in the news which happened during the holi where a North east student was called as “corona” while water balloons were being hurled at her.
It’s our responsibility to remain calm and spread right information coming from credible sources and correct those who spread misinformation. Since there is work from home given in private spheres and schools and colleges are shut in India for 2-3 weeks. It is likely that there will be a rise in time spent on social media and web browsing. Always remember to keep a check on false information which can certainly give rise to rumor spreading and fear among people.
From the point of view of stress, fear and anxiety. Please first make yourself aware about the disease (you can click on links given above in the article) and practice all the precautions. I believe knowing is half the battle. If we are adequately aware of the matter we can practice better precautions over it. However, if you still feel fear or stress it is best to talk with your family or consult a doctor for further help.
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