ACCELERATE SUSTAINABLE ACTIONS TO COMBAT IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON GLOBAL PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH
By: Zahra Ali Khan
The new Covid SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has been recorded as extraordinary in late history, leaving a worldwide impact including high paces of mortality and severe psychological deterioration, economic recession, and supported social confinement for billions of individuals. The impact this emergency has had on populace psychological well-being, both in the short-and long term is obscure. There is negligible amount of proof with regards to the intense stage emotional wellness effects of huge scope pandemics across networks. Assembling early proof of the effects of COVID-19 is crucial for illuminating psychological well-being administration conveyance as the pandemic and its lengthy impacts proceed.
The long hauling novel corona virus disease emerged as the deadliest and the most unprecedented pandemics in the annals of global crisis, causing worldwide unrest, fear, and expiration of countless human lives. As per the present reports according to WHO, corona virus is affecting more than 219 countries, with a total of 415.5 million confirmed cases, including 5.8million reported deaths across the globe, these may not include unreported cases due to mild symptomatology and 71,640,365 new cases. The US, India and Brazil have seen the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by the UK, Russia and Turkey. Very few places have been left untouched.
The widespread morbidity and fatalities associated with the recurrent waves have led to a mass economic recession, exhaustion of medical equipment and resources, occupational pressure alongside educational distress, and a myriad of
psychological implications due to unmet needs and agonizing National and International measures that infringe on personal freedoms to combat the disease are among the key stressors that undeniably augment the widespread emotional distress and run the risk of psychological illnesses associated with Covid-19.
Thereof, the deadly virus marks an unmanageable public health crisis and declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, unfamiliar in the last century, the corona virus pandemic has reported to impact the psychological resilience of an overwhelming majority of individuals across the globe besides being catastrophic for physical health.
The 2019 pandemic has toppled the natural course of existence for practically all the nations in the world. The resultant strategic instructions of social isolation, nationwide lockdowns and stay-in place (mass home confinement) directives have instigated significant effects in terms of mental health including loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, frustration and uncertainty. The current statistics of COVID-19 show that the psychological effects of contagion and quarantine is not restricted merely to the fear of contracting the virus. Factors such as separation from loved ones, loss of opportunity, vulnerability with regards to the progression of the disease, andpervasive feelings of helplessness have surfaced to cause collective hysteria, panic, and elevated anxiety amongst the populations ranging from mild to severe mental health problems.
Public health emergencies impinge on the health, safety, and welfare of both individuals (causing insecurity, confusion, emotional turmoil, and stigma) and communities (owing to monetary losses, work and school closures, shortage of resources for testing and treatment, and lacking conveyance of necessities). These impacts decipher into a scope of emotional retorts, unhealthy behaviors (such as excessive substance use), and resistance to public health mandates (such as home confinement and vaccination) in individuals who acquire the illness and in the overall population. Broad research in disaster mental health has established that emotional turmoil is omnipresent in affected populations — an inference certain to be reverberating in populations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Certain groups have been reported to be more vulnerable than others to the psychosocial effects of the pandemic. Particularly, individuals who contract the disease, those are more prone to it (including the elderly, people who are immuno-compromised, and those living or receiving care in foster homes), and individuals with prior history of medical, or psychiatric complications are at heightened risk for unpleasant mental health consequences.
Children and young adults are especially at risk of psychological sequel as that of difficulty concentrating, boredom, irritability, insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, sense of loneliness, uneasiness, and worries. Health care providers, who are in close contact with COVID-19 positive patients are also predominantly vulnerable to emotional distress in the current pandemic, given their heightened risk of exposure to the virus, constant fear of infecting their loved ones, shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), extended workload, unbearable stress, helplessness and grief seeing infected patients die alone.
Henceforth, emphasis on psychological resilience is imperative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual support from family, friends, and a special caring loved one encourage wellness and enhance coping mechanisms in the midst of dire circumstances. During such a time of globally imposed time & again lockdowns and stay-in orders, it is vital to nurture these relationships and to find ways to stay connected with those we care about.
Day-to-day activities are also crucial. Exposure to the sunlight and outdoors for a few minutes each day and a tad bit of exercise can help improve focus and general feelings of well-being. Taking out a few minutes to reflect what we are grateful for also improves the attitude to cope with stress. Individuals who foster a sense of gratitude have better mental strength and physical well-being. Moreover, one should let alone thoughts of “what if and what not?” as they are fuel to the fire of stress and worry. It will only take us to a place we do not want or need to go.
Another coping mechanism entail discontinuing negative self-talk. The more we ruminate on negative thoughts, the more they have power over us. Most of our negative thoughts are just thoughts, not facts, that are our own skewed perceptions. Recognizing and labeling thoughts as thoughts helps evade the cycle of negativity and turning towards a positive mindset. Likewise, it is utterly futile, to try to deal with everything on our own. To be calm we ought to understand our weaknesses and call for help when gets too much to struggle alone. This means reaching out to our support system when we feel too overwhelmed. Everyone has someone who is by their side, rooting for them and willing to help them through a difficult situation. Recognize these individuals and try to seek their insight and support when needed. Something as simple as talking about our worries mitigates anxiety and stress and strengthens our relationships with those we rely upon. The power to manage emotions and remain calm under a barrage of stressful events has an obvious connection with psychic resilience. It is crucial to keep stress under control in times of crisis.
Lastly, spiritual health is another aspect of well-being to acknowledge, more steadfastness in prayers and faith is a prominent hallmark of bolstering resilience and inner peace. It is observed that those who dynamically engaged in these strategies and withstood their relationships managed to overcome the challenges to mental health imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile media headlines can be emotionally disturbing, contact with pandemic-related news should be limited and monitored. Because parents usually underrate their children’s distress, receptive discussions should be persuaded to tackle children’s reactions and concerns. Health education related to Covid-19 ought to be enhanced utilizing online platforms. Telemedicine & Telecounselling should be implemented in areas where mental health services are inadequately represented. Government officials, medical professionals, mental health practioners should provide appropriate information to mitigate the impact of anxiety, frustration, and negative emotions which signify barriers to the appropriate management of social crisis and psychological consequences related to pandemic. Executing community-based reforms to sustain resilience during the COVID-19 crisisis the need of the hour. The psychosomatic effect of fear and anxiety needs to be clearly identified as a public health priority for both authorities and policy makers who should implement behavioral strategies to ease the burden of disease and the dramatic mental health concerns of this outbreak.
The write is a Regular contributor towards SDGs, Human Rights Activist, & at present an M.Phil Scholar in Psychology.
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