As the world goes through an unprecedented global health crisis, the uncertainty about the future keeps growing. We have no idea what a post-coronavirus world would look like, and the uncertainty coupled with the loss of livelihood and social isolation is taking a toll on people's mental health.
If you're keeping up with the news, you would know that coronavirus cases are spiking at an alarming rate in India. As I write this, 12,456 have tested positive across the country and 423 people have lost their lives. While hospitals are trying to deal with the pandemic, we're looking at the rise in another major health issue. According to a recent survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society, there has been a sudden rise in those suffering from mental illness--cases are now up by 20 percent.
This means that at least one out of every five Indians is suffering from mental illness.
The survey revealed that the number of cases spiked by 15-20% in a week's time amid the coronavirus crisis. The lockdown has added to people's fear of losing their businesses, jobs, earnings, savings or even basic resources, it found.
Besides the economic impact and fear of loss of livelihood, the survey found that the lockdown has also had a debilitating effect on the lifestyle of people. Being locked up indoors with limited resources has lead to an increase in anxiety, panic attacks, and even alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
All state governments have adopted various measures to deal with rising cases of mental illness. The central government started a toll-free helpline to deal with psycho-social problems faced by people in the wake of the outbreak and gets close to 600 calls daily.
According to doctor B N Gangadhar, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, most calls are about the fear of contracting the disease but some are over the possible loss of job or livelihood or even domestic violence.
However, medical professionals are bearing the brunt of this pandemic, putting their physical as well as mental health at stake to save lives. The numerous recent incidents of doctors being ostracised and assaulted seem to be making things worse for them. According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee, healthcare workers could also be under the fear of transmitting the disease to their loved ones which is much likely for the medics to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With the entire population of the world being under so much physical and mental distress, let's acknowledge the need to be kind to ourselves and one another. After all, the only way to fight this pandemic is by coming together and supporting the people on the frontlines.
If you are suffering from mental health issues during the lockdown, follow the government's guidelines or call 080-46110007 to speak to a professional.
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