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June 23, 2020

Let’s Talk about Mental Health during this Coronavirus Pandemic.

The world is struggling through a tough phase.

Along with the rampant growth of COVID-19 infections around the globe, people have been left with no other option than to lock themselves within their homes in an effort to contain the virus as the rule of “physical distancing” has been implemented virtually worldwide.

Digital proximity has worked as an antidote to bring people together irrespective of the chronic physical environment. So too have people begun exercising and working out indoors, creating trending hashtags like #sweating, #workingout, and #stayhealthy across social platforms.

But there’s more to sweat than COVID and our boredom experienced during confinement.

Thousands of people have committed suicides throughout the pandemic, however, those deaths have not received as much attention as required. The staggering rates of mental health problems such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety are being reported in various countries every day. But we’d rather talk fitness and personal expansion in a time when so many feel that they are shrinking away.

Talkspace, an online therapy company in America, has reported a 65 percent increase in regular clients since mid-February 2020. In Nepal, during the first three months of lockdown, a total of 875 people committed suicide. In India, 300 suicidal deaths up to the first week of May were found to be linked with the nationwide lockdown. Additionally, a study conducted in the United Kingdom showed that 41 percent of the UK population is at risk of mental illness in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

These are just a few instances of the global mental health crisis resulting from strict quarantine and state lockdown policies. If we were to gather data relating to psychological trauma throughout the world at the moment, the figures would likely be much higher.

Reported causes of mental health complications include social isolation, inadequate treatment availability, unemployment, domestic violence, and job stress (in the case of health workers mostly).

What’s more saddening is that not everyone is aware of these issues. Most people fear opening up to their loved ones or even seeking psychological help as mental health still carries a stigma in many parts of the world wherein people dealing with any form of mental illness are perceived as a threat to the society.

We need to normalize the concept of mental health “issues.”

Social media influencers need to dedicate posts to mental health in addition to providing, say, work out videos that benefit physical health. The more we talk about mental health, the more people will be aware of mental health issues that they are experiencing, as well as the availability of resources to deal with them.

For those of you feeling lonely and frustrated most of the time, I urge you to communicate with your family members, relatives, or friends so that your struggles do not go unnoticed. Don’t let the fear of judgment crumble you more. Please speak and let your woes out. Keeping your sufferings to yourself is definitely not going to help.

In almost all countries, there are therapy centres, both private and government-funded, where there are mental health experts armored with knowledge, skills, and experiences to help address your issues. You can access them online as well.

To those who are unaware of the mental health issues plaguing the globe as a result of this pandemic, I highly recommend you educate yourself. When we are uninformed, our actions may sometimes serve to unintentionally harm or worsen the states of our loved ones in distress.

You may visit the official website of the World Health Organization to view their handbooks and digital files so that the next time a friend or loved one approaches you with his or her issue, you’ll be able to respond to them meaningfully and helpfully. There are numerous other websites such as Psychology Today, HelpGuide, Mindful, and The Positivity Blog that can provide resources for the same purpose.

Similarly, on state level, it is the utmost duty of the government to design financial policies for assisting the unemployed and those facing financial crises as a result of the pandemic. Government, in collaboration with various organizations and civil societies, must organize mental health campaigns aiming to provide the required assistance to people in need.

But, most importantly, it’s high time for all of us to start talking about it. Only then can we deal with this expanding mental health crisis. Better. Together.

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