The Corona Virus and global lockdowns have caused completely unparalleled and extraordinary times none of us have faced before. With the effect of this large spread pandemic, on our physical health increasingly documented, we can no longer ignore its effects on our mental health.
In a country like India, with a major gap in the beliefs and perceptions of people towards mental health, talks have begun to help people talk more openly about these issues. All this is because people are facing a lot of psychological distress, such as healthcare workers, actors, migrant laborers, senior citizens, people with pre-existing conditions, and even children. We are surrounded by all these people.
The worrying part though is that, the majority of India’s population, who might be suffering from a mental issue, may not even be aware of what they are going through due to the lack of education and awareness.
Even if they somehow know, most of them do not seek professional help. This is due to their orthodox stigmas, lack of professional help in the country, and whatever few present, come with expensive healthcare expenditures. At the end of the day, with no fault of theirs, these people end up suffering and face the reverberations of the poor quality of care.
The Pandemic has opened up the minds of Indians about how important their mental health is. The lockdown, causing isolation has instilled fear, anxiety, and stress into us. People have started feeling depressed, thinking about their loved ones, and not being able to meet them. The pandemic has put us in a situation where we are isolated, both physically and mentally.
But we must not forget, all these feelings for most of us are temporary. It’s just a peek into the lives of people who have been facing these problems way before Covid-19 and are diagnosed for clinical disorders. For those people, the pandemic has just made their daily struggles, worse. Now, on top of existing mental health problems, they also have to deal with the stress of Covid-19.
Hence, we must not wait for our situations to worsen and must take care of ourselves. Being in the field of psychology myself, I am aware that the pandemic can cause emotional outbursts, fear, anxiety, and stress even to the happiest of individuals but the need to remain calm and composed comes into action here.
One can face changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, they might start overthinking and over worrying lose their ability to concentrate and suffer from a lot of stress as well. There are also instances where people tend to have suicidal thoughts and actions.
But despite all hurdles, you must trust yourself and have the will to change for the better.
To help with such emotional distress,
- First and foremost, you must take care of your physical well-being. Keep your body active and get regular with either brisk walking, exercises, or yoga.
- Get away from watching or listening to too much news about the pandemic or even read too much about it on social media. The repeated mentioning of the pandemic will only add to your mental burdens.
- Do not keep yourself isolated, stay connected to your family and friends even if you have to do it virtually because talking to people always makes you feel better, and lightens your mind.
Even though these feelings and emotions are avoidable but sometimes you’re not aware and you’ve crossed the stage of solving your problems on your own. You must be aware of your emotional condition and be convinced to seek out for professional help. It is just like going to the doctor during a fever or a cold and you must remember there is nothing to be ashamed of.
As time is slowly passing by, people are being used to this condition and now the time is not far where everything will start getting near to normal. But you must not forget that the ‘new’ normal can also cause a lot of mixed emotions within individuals. A sense of relief, stress about work, worry about getting re-infected or sick again, and other emotional or mental changes are possible.
But we must know that each person reacts differently to different situations, and has a different coping mechanism. Hence, the most important thing to learn is introspection, and being emotionally connected to yourself. The better yourself, you can help keep calm and come out of any mental situation that might be disturbing.
While all of this is important, there are hardly people who know about these strategies. All this needs to be told to hundreds of thousands of people, who still think that talking about mental health is referring to yourself as a “pagal/psycho” who belongs in mental hospital. These beliefs and the thought process needs to be changed, and spreading awareness has now become a necessity.
Much more action needs to be taken regarding the field of mental health in our country. Our neglect of mental health is obvious from the insufficient number psychologists and our limited attention we devote towards it. We know we need major change but yet because the prevalence of mental health conditions in India is approximately 18 to 207 out of 1000 and only about 2% to 3% are known to suffer from major mental illnesses, there is not much discussion about it.
We tend to forget that there is still a large majority of people who are unable to identify the conditions they are suffering from and so, these numbers only account for the number of cases reported
I hope that despite being a sudden wave of distress, this pandemic has taught the people of our society how mental health is just as important and relevant as physical health and there will be a growth in our country’s mental health industry in the near future.
BSc. Clinical Psychology
Shree Guru Gobind Tricentenary University