COVID-19 – The Mental Health Perspective.
Ayinla Daniel. RN, Rctn.
The other day, I came across some very disturbing news on the internet, about people who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus committing suicide! And I must tell you, there are still a whole lot of fellows out there who are suffering right now and thinking about suicide or worse – harming themselves, those they love and society.
The aftermath of this pandemic is going to revolve around careful and constant mental health rehabilitation because a lot of folks are going to suffer from different degrees of PTSD’s – patients (those who survived), families (families who lost loved ones) and the caregivers.
What about the quarantine? People are already panicky, anxiety is palpable, many do not know what to think about, some feel the world is coming to an end! People will be stressed beyond measure, many will snap; with the mental health of millions at stake, we must not neglect this vital aspect of the population’s health.
Mental health practitioners must come out and begin to health educate the world on the effect of the pandemic on the mental health of individuals and profere preventive measures. A lot of people have never seen anything like this before, it’s strange to them; the whole panic, economic shutdown, deaths, commotion and fear, these things are foreign to a lot of minds, and if care is not taken, we will have another problem to deal with.
Mental stress is inevitable in this period. We may begin to see more episodes of suicides (which as you know is already apparent), panic disorders, anxiety and a whole lot of reactions, coming especially from places that are really experiencing the heat.
Individual thresholds differ greatly, what Mr John can tolerate, Mr Peter dies under that same pressure, and there’s a very thin line that demarcates sanity from insanity. I believe you have heard of panic shopping? People out of panic and fear running into shops to buy all they can buy, I also came across something funny – some fellows who went all out to panic buy marijuana! I mean, so funny.
How can you take care of your mental health and those around you during this period?
• Relax and know your limitations: You must know what you are capable of handling, especially as a health caregiver. If you know seeing a lot of dead or sick persons gets the most of you, it’s better you take a break.
• Seek help immediately: Seek help immediately you begin to notice strange signs, which may include; hallucinations (tactile, visual, auditory etc), extreme sadness; depression or panic, manic behaviours. Mental health practitioners are still working!
• Do not react immediately to every information you get from TV programmes or the internet: Bad information will kill many during this period. Be mindful of the kind of information you allow to influence your decisions, always rely on information extracted from trusted sources – The World Health Organization, Centre For Disease Control and your local Health Bodies.
• Always voice out your worries to a friend, colleague or a family member: Akin to the point I mentioned above – seek help. You can as well pour out your feelings to a close friend or a colleague. Bottling up feelings is not a very good mental health practice, ventilate, let people around you know what is wrong with you in the inside.
• Report abnormal behaviour of friends, family members or colleagues immediately: You want to be your brothers & sisters keeper. When you observe that a friend or colleague is exhibiting some strange symptoms, like talking to themselves, withdrawal/depression, extreme anger and panic, do not hesitate to report and seek help. You may be helping to rescue someone from the claws of mental deterioration.
• Get busy: Don’t put your focus on all that is going on right now, I am not saying act like nothing is happening, all I am saying is that do not allow the negatives cloud your mind, get busy doing some other things if you work from home, it’s better for you, now is the time we may be able to appreciate the role of the internet in our present world.
• A good time to socialise – reconnect with friends & families? : While you adhere to the recommendation of social distancing, it’s not a bad idea to try and reestablish lost connections. Let this period be used to bring to life dying relationships. Isolation does not delete socialisation.
While you are following hand hygiene, also make sure you are also taking into consideration mental health hygiene. A lot of people are not finding this whole pandemic issue easy, more awareness should be placed on the preservation of the mental health of people – campaigns, pieces of literature, and all other tools must be put in place to help mitigate the deterioration of the mental health of individuals all over the world.
What are your thoughts? We want to hear from you.
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