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UP Too, Like Elsewhere Faces Mental Health Challenges In COVID Times
LUCKNOW || In addition to its extensive impact on physical health, Covid-19 has also taken an unprecedented toll on human minds. In Uttar Pradesh too, there had been an increased number of depression and anxiety cases as well as increase in post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and self-injuries.
Potential factors that led to this increase are social isolation, unemployment, economic loss due to lockdown down and fear of getting infected with the virus. The World health organisation (WHO) regularly updates about the new scientific findings to spread awareness among the general public.
India, home to over 1.3 billion people, has a fragmented health care system with an inadequate public health infrastructure and a large and growing private sector. As India battles a growing number of coronavirus cases, its health-care system is starting to buckle.
Some patients are facing a desperate struggle to access treatment. Amidst the Indian healthcare organisations focusing on Covid-19 patients, many of the people in need of psychological help are being left behind. Such stories of people dying due to self-harm, suicides are no longer uncommon, appearing with regularity in newspapers and on social media.
From the expert’s point of view, Dr Anil Nishchhal, Psychiatrist at KGMC, says,” In the absence of well-coordinated strategic initiative to lessen the physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19, a global epidemic of chronic diseases, mental illness and increased mortality may emerge as long-term consequences of stress induced medical disorders related to widespread unemployment”.
Except for showing concern about the rise in number of daily patients, the psychiatrist continues to add,” Individuals who were already struggling with mental illness before COVID-19 are now facing even greater challenges”.
"However, there are simple and effective actions that you can take as a health care provider. Key among them is providing information. As a health care provider, you would be seen as a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Explain the rationale of quarantining and social distancing. Promote reliable sources of information", added the psychiatrist.
The Indian Government has been putting various efforts for welfare of the people, the most recent is the launch of helpline ‘KIRAN’ (1800-599-0019) by Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot on 7th September. The helpline offers mental health rehabilitation services with the objective of early screening, first aid, psychological support, distress management, mental wellbeing, promoting positive behaviour and psychological crisis management, the minister said.
Despite these efforts, people resort to wrong methods of treatment due to misinformation. A large number of people are experiencing emotional breakdowns, nervousness, tension, stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness and are experiencing sleep disturbances.
Bengaluru-based Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF) conducted an online survey with therapists throughout the country. The study is named as "COVID-19 Blues". Out of 300 therapists, 159 shared their complete responses. Out of these over 68% of the therapists saw an increase in people seeking medical helps. Help-seeking was highest amongst individuals aged 25-40 years, followed by those aged 18-25 years and 40-60 years, as reported. While females are the highest increase in help-seeking through therapy, the professionals and students groups also saw an increase.
Informing people about the symptoms to watch out for and what symptoms not to worry about. Encouraging them to remain in touch with each other over virtual means is the need of the hour to provide help to mentally distressed people.
-- Mohd Haris Siddiqui