How someone respond to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic can depend on their background, presence or absence of social support from family or friends, financial situation, preexisting health and psycho-emotional background, the community you live in, and other myriad factors.
The changes that can happen, if not yet happening, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the approaches implemented to contain the spread of the virus can affect anyone, either positively or negatively in terms of their mental health.
As we are all aware by now, Covid-19 has brought about monumental changes to the economy, world trade landscape, and social dynamics. It has caused a murderous pandemic and as months rages on, Covid-19 is still here proliferating albeit at a slower rate, another pandemic is threatening the world, depression.
Significant changes in our lives, faced with new realities, and constant barrage of information and misinformation can take its toil on our mental well-being.
Substantial investment needed to avert mental health crisis amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Social isolation, fear of contagion, and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment.” But the question is, with so many countries suffering in terms of their medical capacity to financial, how are they going to address this sweeping phenomenon? How are they going to find ways to provide this equally critical services?
In addition to, WHO provided key metrics despite the delay in their response or the lack of urgency. In concrete terms, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment.
Changes in approaches to provision of mental health care and psycho-social support are showing signs of success in some countries.
In Madrid, when more than 60% of mental health beds were converted to care for people with COVID-19, where possible, people with severe conditions were moved to private clinics to ensure continuity of care. Local policy-makers identified emergency psychiatry as an essential service to enable mental health-care workers to continue outpatient services over the phone. Home visits were organized for the most serious cases. Teams from Egypt, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia and New Zealand, among others, have reported creating increased capacity of emergency telephone lines for mental health to reach people in need.
Moreover, support for community actions that strengthen social cohesion and reduce loneliness, particularly for the most vulnerable, such as older people, must continue. Such support is required from government, local authorities, the private sector and members of the general public, with initiatives such as provision of food parcels, regular phone check-ins with people living alone, and organization of online activities for intellectual and cognitive stimulation. These initiatives are to be expected and far from groundbreaking, mental health involves innovative and traditional approaches to deal with it.
Typically and understandably, suicide incidents and tragedy are rarely reported due to privacy concerns even when data and statistics suggests increase and proliferation in recent months.
During this difficult times, it is critical to spend some time to know the facts, reach out, have calm conversations, practice and prioritize self-care, and normalize seeking help.
This particular question asked by Anxiety Canada, Are You Appropriately or Excessively Concerned?, is quite an eye-opener and it helps anyone to ground themselves to reality rather than the hyper-reaction that misinformation can bring about. The article written by Maureen Whittal and Melisa Robichaud of the Scientific Advisory Committee added the following anecdote:
Right now we are living in a time of great uncertainty. We don’t know what the future holds for our health, the health of our families, or our economic well-being. The extent of this uncertainty can be very frightening and anxiety-provoking, and can therefore lead to unhelpful coping behaviours. For example, you might be looking up excessive information about COVID-19 on a daily basis. Although it is a good idea to stay informed in order to hear important updates or advisories, trying to feel more certain about the situation by watching the news all day, or looking up information online and on social media, is not helpful. No one knows yet how this current pandemic will resolve itself in our daily lives, and unfortunately you won’t obtain greater certainty by scouring the internet for more information. In fact, trying to seek out certainty in this manner will likely make you more anxious in the long-run. As such, it is a good idea to stay informed by obtaining your news once a day, preferably at the same time of day, from a reputable news source.
One ongoing global crisis is suicide. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) states that, suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.
While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is to reduce factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience.
The pandemic is real, Covid-19 is still infecting thousands of people and killing hundreds more. However, Mental health is an important part of overall health and well being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It may also affect how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices during an emergency.