“Isolation, physical distancing, the closure of schools and workplaces are challenges that affect us, and it is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness at this time,” the director of the European branch of the WHO, Hans Kluge said in March.
There a taboo which is associated with the mental health in India. People don’t acknowledge it and don’t treat it as a topic that needs to be discussed. There have been various issues with respect to a lockdown. It surely is a necessity but India is not acknowledging the elephant in the room, the major topic which people are dealing with, mental health, and kindness. Since people are sitting at home, they tend to use social media a lot. The day “boys locker room” came into light, social media has been filled with various posts about that. It seems to be the new cool people talk about. One must understand that there comes a line when you need to give it a break and think about your own mental health. There has been a mental pressure of not knowing what will happen tomorrow.
The Black Death pandemic and issue of the 14th century took place in the same context where half of the people in china died, a third of Europe’s population died and it hit all the social classes like the COVID-19. But there has always been one sector who is more sensitive to all this, the lower one. People were destroyed. They didn’t return to work after the pandemic. Wages for labor shot up as did the cost of manufactured goods.
In a poll in March, 32% of the people said that they are constantly worrying about the coronavirus and it is causing a toll on their mental health. A few days later, another poll was done and in that over 45% of people claimed for the same thing. There are a few issues associated with the mental effects of a lockdown like:
- In a survey it was realized that about 54% of the people had a high-stress level and about 17% of them were having symptoms of clinical depression.
- Pre-existing mental health issues like anxiety, depression is being carried on without anyone venting out of working towards them since the lockdown is going on. Loneliness has been the biggest barrier during this time. People with anxiety issues are severely hit by the lockdown.
- The whole situation going on is causing harm to the people who are dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD makes people very particular about cleaning. People are washing their hands, sanitizing the vegetables, doors etc at a very high obsessive rate.
- Mental health doctors are looking at a future with more and more frustrated and clinically depressed people with closed boundaries because of the lockdown. Doctors have witnessed a surge in the demand of medical drugs and drugs related to depression. People are taking high doses because they can’t really see a doctor right now.
- Cases of domestic violence have also increased a lot. It hasn’t been a shocker though. The incidence of suicide and physical abuse against women has shown a worldwide increase.
- Staying in a house with four walls guarding everyone in a family is not an easy thing for everyone. For some people, it can be highly oppressive and toxic. Especially for the lower middle class and poor people. They live in small, dingy apartments with many people in it. There have been a lot of instances when people have run away from their houses and found shelter under the trees in some random park. On top of all this, the basic conversation in every household is how to keep the money flow operational which often leads to many issues and in turn promotes violence in houses.
- There need to be proper rules and regulations for the poverty and the unemployment which the country is going through. People re getting stressed about the layoffs, salary cuts and hidden unemployment which would prevail in the coming days.
- Bengaluru-based psychotherapist Natasha Vijay said that she has clients who are struggling daily to cope up with the stress and pent up frustration people are facing against the “invisible enemy”. The pandemic has been very difficult for the women too because of the constant social pressure to just live up to their tag and listen to everyone.
One thing which needs to be noted is that this virus will stay and we must change ourselves. the lockdown, norms of social distancing, and staying away from people will continue for a long time. The government should invest in health care facilities that will specifically look into the aspects of mental health and anxiety. The government can also create a news platform where regular and verified updates about the virus are given by the head of the country so as to boost everyone’s confidence and burst the bubble of mystery and false information. Fostering a sense of social togetherness and emotional being whether on the phone, or through acts of self-sacrifice by helping people in the neighbourhood is essential at this time and is also the need of the hour. People must rise above hate and help their peers in every possible way by maintaining a safe amount of distance.