Since the first case of novel coronavirus disease was diagnosed in December 2019, it has swept across the world and spurred a global response. It has brought abrupt changes in our life style and behavior. The entire world is right now experiencing some degree of lockdown alongwith precautionary measures such as social distancing.
While these steps may be critical to mitigate the spread of this disease, they will undoubtedly have consequences for mental health and well-being in both short and long term. Therefore, it is very important to assess impact of the outbreak on mental health of individual and population to focus on its remedies.
In Pakistani society and culture, most of the families still live in a joint family system where people are highly socialized. Steps such as self-isolation, social-distancing and quarantine are likely to have greater emotional and psychological impacts. However, the impact can be more severe on those people who are alone and away from their families due to various compulsions.
It is already evident that there is a substantial increase in anxiety and fear among public which is leading to depression. The psychological impact of quarantine may also include post-traumatic stress disorder, confusion, and frustration. Such behavioral and psychological impact can promote harmful habits such as substance use and resorting to various degrees of domestic violence.
However, all is not dark and gloomy, we can still manage to save ourselves from these harmful effects. Focus on personal activities could become a very important and protective factor against the psychological impact of coronavirus.
Anxiety usually stemmed from the perception of uncontrollable events, thus engaging and focusing on small actions such as improving hygiene, healthy diet, exercising, introspection, meditation, painting, gardening, cooking, reading books etc can really help our mental health. Any factor that can keeps you engaged and cope with stress, anxiety, and panic should be practiced. It is also very important not to over inform yourself regarding current situation. By now you already know all the precautionary measures, try to follow that and restrict your News time. There is a difference between careful and paranoid, while we all should be careful about the situation, we should not panic or get paranoid. As per doctors, it affects the immune system, making us more vulnerable to diseases and infections.
While government and health departments are managing COVID19 pandemic, mental health experts can help in ensuring mental health well-being and treating psychological issues stemming from current situation. In this regard, mental health practitioners can offer online and onsite support through counseling and psychotherapy. A timely counselling by an expert can be very helpful and may prevent development of serious psychosocial or mental issues.
There is no doubt that these are difficult and lonely times, nonetheless it also offers us opportunity to refocus on our personal and family health. Taking care of yourself, friends and your family can help you cope with the stress enabling you to emerge stronger from the current situation.