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COVID-19 And Mental Health

COVID-19 And Mental Health

covid

Some have described it as a sign of the end of the world, a plague, others have termed it a bioweapon from China. The origin however is officially traced to a wet animal market in the city where it emerged and was first reported on December 19, 2019- Wuhan the largest city in the Hubei Province of China and it is believed by scientist to have jumped into humans for the first man from bats. The World Health Organisation hence named it the new coronavirus or COVID 19 and declared it a pandemic on 30th January 2020.

Since then Covid 19 has occupied the news 24/7 and has literally shut down the world and its economy and has infected over 1.5 million persons and counting in 209 countries with more than 90,000 deaths and counting at the time of writing this. It is carried by humans to humans.

Most countries and cities have been locked down to prevent or reduce the spread. A country like India with its 1.3 billion population was locked down within hours. Covid 19 has affected even the high and mighty and has been a no respecter of persons- The UK Prime Minister, The Canadian Prime minister’s wife, US senators, The Saudi King, Hollywood actors and Nigerian state governors.

We will in this article, look at its impact on mental health.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well being. It affects how we think, feel or act.

Fear

Many believe the world has not seen anything like this before never mind the Spanish Flu of 1918, World War II. It is been described variously as the apocalypse, a punishment from God, political warfare, A plan for a New World Order, The arrival of the anti- Christ, the plan of the Illuminati. These have put fear in the minds of people.

Another source of mental stress and fear is its route of transmission. Close contact even speaking with infected persons who may not even display any symptoms can spread the virus. It is an unseen enemy with a hidden mode of attack and infection can result in death. Also there is no proven cure yet and no effective vaccine as at yet.

This has resulted in paranoia and anxiety with people afraid to and is avoiding hugs, handshakes even with close relatives – the new buzz word -social distancing. People are afraid to touch surfaces, railings and their own faces and have become addicted to sanitizing and washing their hands. That isolation could also be mental wrecks while waiting for the 14 day period to pass or for their results to be released.

The Lock Down

Some are running mad due to the lockdown. To some, the lockdown is being like a prison sentence and has caused a lot of mental stress to people who were hitherto not used to this. People who were used to taking walks to the park, visiting restaurants, going to work, children going to school or playgrounds have all suddenly have to stop. Lifestyles have changed. The streets are empty and there is an eerie feeling looking images of the empty usually busy cities. It is like a movie. Boredom has set in and claustrophobics will suffer more. Depression may set in. There could be suicidal tendencies.

Economy

The world was caught unprepared. Businesses have been affected both large and small by the lockdown caused by the Covid 19. Billions of dollars have been lost and job losses and furloughs are mounting. The US is reporting the largest jobless calls and some have estimated 50% job losses in Africa at the end of this. The world economy generally and those of most countries are expected to go into a recession. In Africa in particular where governments may not be able to give any substantial welfare packages, hunger will set in and people will become restless and may riot as we have seen in a few cases in Lagos Nigeria. Depression may set in too. A German Finance Minister committed suicide apparently due to worries related to economic slowdown on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Health workers

They have been at the forefront of the war against Covid 19. They have been working nonstop, with little or no sleep, overwhelmed by patients and witnessing more deaths than they usually see. This can be mentally draining. The fear of contracting the infection is another concern to health workers especially in settings where there are inadequate PPEs., masks and ventilators to treat patients and having to watch them die.
Medical practitioners fighting with this hidden enemy have lost their lives, over 100 doctors in Italy and they and their families understandably are living and working in fear. A 34 year old infected Italian nurse committed suicide for fear of infecting others.

Coping with Covid 19 mentally

Avoid Covid 19 news: Most if not all news channels report Covid 19 24/7 almost. Avoiding listening, reading and watching Covid 19 related materials or stories. This may help to take one’s mind from the pandemic.

  • Play games while on the lockdown
  • Taking brief walks, working the dog or exercising will help the mind and ease the boredom.
  • Reading books and watching movies. Netflix has a lot of movies to keep one busy.
  • Governments should provide significant palliatives to individuals and companies and minimise job losses.
  • Obey WHO and government health agencies advisories on Covid 19 preventive measures including social distancing and this will reduce the risk and fears of contracting the virus.
  • Work and worship from home or online.
  • Avoid conspiracy theories. Believe that it will pass and imagine a good life after the pandemic.
  • Focus on positive stories on Covid 19 like survivals, recoveries and discharges.

There should be help lines for psychological support and regular advice by mental health experts.

In conclusion, the toll on our economic lives by the Covid 19 pandemic is huge but we must not take our eyes off the unseen mental and psychological effects which may stay with us forever. Our lives may never be the same again. Social distancing may remain with us and people may remain afraid to shake hands or hug people again even after the pandemic is over.

Is there going to be a new world order? Will China take over? Will economic losses and business or job losses be regained? Will the human race survive this? Is it a bioweapon? Is there another pandemic lurking somewhere waiting to pounce on mankind again? Do we need to change our lives, lifestyle and diet or pray more to God to take this plague away and prevent a recurrence?

These questions may continue to play on our minds for many years to come and the story of the Covid 19 pandemic will be told to generations to come.

Stay home and stay safe!

References:
1. https://www.sciencemag.org.news
2. https://www.who.int. Mental health and Psychosocial considerations during the CoVID 19 outbreak
3. www.mentalhealth.gov. What is Mental Health?
.4. https:// www.worldometers.info

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