Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has created psycho-socio-economic crisis at a rapid pace, worldwide. Although social activities have been restricted in most countries, most of essential activities were also prohibited due to the quarantine.
As the local hospitals had to suddenly implement emergency protocols, the health-care workers became impacted by this sudden, unprepared, out of their control crisis, which resulted in emotional distress and mental exhaustion.
Also given the risk of exposure to virus, concern over getting infected, unable to care for their loved ones, shortages of personal protective equipment’s (PPE) and longer working hours.
Many psychological problems in terms of mental health started to significantly become evident among masses, such as Anxiety, Depression, frustration and in many cases this frustration and stress led to aggressive, hostile and impulsive behaviors.
Commonly seen psychological distress were related to the quarantine which was imposed to control the spread of the infection. To top this off, anxiety among the communities got worsen with truck loads of information which was constantly provided by media. Such anxiety- provoking information led to panic behaviors, feeling depressed (feeling helpless and hopeless), in many it led to negative outcomes such as indulging in self harm and having suicidal thoughts.
The modern world in which we live and travel freely, quickly and easily was drastically impacted with many countries sealing their boarders and some imposing social isolation on arrival. This was linked to frustration, anxiety due to uncertainty and boredom for those who wanderlust. It was even more challenging for those who had to meet their dear ones and whose income depends on travelling.
Some groups of people may be more vulnerable than others to the psychological effects of the pandemic. In particular, people who contracted the disease, those who are at heightened risk (the elderly, those with compromised immune function, and people with pre-existing medical, psychiatric or substance use problems), these groups of people have experienced adverse psychological outcomes.
The pandemic has brought the worst around us. And yet, a lack of mental health experts and organizations has left the affected groups vulnerable to their environment. It is now that the lack of mental health experts such as Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychiatric nurses in a country like India has become more evident to all.
As for the front line workers who are working longer than usual hours; burnout, anxiety, depression and increased substance dependence is likely to be common among them.
In India, a vast sector of labour class are migrants who lost their jobs to the pandemic. They were forced to travel back to their hometowns without much cash in hand and with lack of essentials. This crisis made them even more vulnerable, helpless and hopeless.
Working and studying from home has brought about a drastic shift in eating and sleeping habits. People are more likely to experience low moods, tiredness, loss of appetite and insomnia. Online classes and exams has greatly impacted teachers, parents, and students alike. Especially for those house wives they were burdened by household chores and looking after their child’s academics. For both working parents having a work life balance became a living nightmare. For students it turned out to be a continuous strain as they were and are exposed to long hours of screen, which also led to behavioral changes and tantrums.
Financial crisis due to loss of job and shutting down of businesses increased use of substances and incidents of domestic violence became vivid.
If one notices such significant changes in and around their environment, they must identify and seek help.
(Disclaimer: The author is Sana Rubiyana, Counselling Psychologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)