India is reaching its three month mark since a nation-wide lockdown was imposed, on the 25th of March 2020, to curb the all-pervasive spread of the novel coronavirus disease. Infected cases and death tolls continue to rise with no cemented end in sight. The Indian Psychiatry Society (IPS) reports a spike in mental health cases across the nation since the lockdown was imposed. Furthermore, social stigmas associated with mental health in India makes it much more difficult for an affected individual to seek out required help, in the form of therapy or psychiatric consultations.
The last reported global pandemic took place in the year 1981, since known as the Spanish Influenza. Therefore, it is understandable that most nations across the globe were unprepared for a pandemic of this scale. The sudden stay-at-home orders served as a disruption to people’s livelihood. Individuals began practicing physical isolation, taking a toll on one’s mental health as the duration of the lockdown continued to be extended.
Some groups of individuals may be more susceptible to mental health issues than others. Individuals with pre-existing mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies are more prone to develop concerning symptoms. Furthermore, parents across the globe are facing troubles of all forms, from having to tend to their children during what would otherwise be school hours, to having to explain the pandemic to their young ones, while having limited answers themselves. Also, the fear that stems from elderly people (or people with a specific set of pre-existing ailments) being more prone to the virus plays to the additional mental health concerns for these individuals and those around them. For the poor and marginalized, the pandemic is understandably adding to the variety of challenges these individuals already face.
Financial pressures, unemployment, inadequate food and living resources and the duration of this nation-wide lockdown are some of the many factors that could trigger mental illness, unanimously. Those living in containment zones, or tending to COVID-19 patients are also much more likely to succumb to the disintegration of their mental health.
The mass confinement of people (within their homes), the constant inflow of grim COVID-19 news, the uncertainty of one’s own safety and the safety of their loved ones are some of the many things individuals, the world over, are facing.And while communication continues to evolve in the virtual space, it is challenging to adapt to a world without physical contact – a world behind our screens. Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said “With the disruptive effects of COVID-19 – including social distancing – currently dominating our daily lives, it is important that we check on each other, call and video chat, and are mindful of and sensitive to the unique mental health needs of those we care for. Our anxiety and fears should be acknowledged and not be ignored, but better understood and addressed by individuals, communities, and governments”.
It is absolutely necessary to get professional help for yourself and those around you, if and when the need arises. Psychiatrists across India have started conducting telephonic consultations and Therapists have been utilizing video call features on various platforms to conduct therapy sessions. Many government and private NGOs have set up helplines for anyone in need of urgent psychiatric or mental health care.
If you or someone you know need to reach out to a professional urgently, here is a list of ways to do so –
A mental health helpline launched by The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare – https://twitter.com/MoHFW_INDIA/status/1244219988900114435
List of multiple helplines if you feel the need to talk to someone –
Free services provided by students of psychology – +91 98245 14033, https://www.instagram.com/p/B-elyFZltse/
For LGBTQ+ people – +91 9013262626, https://www.instagram.com/p/CAXCMK5pp5f/
Featured Image via Canva