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Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on mental health
22 August 2021
The Covid 19 pandemic is not just a medical phenomenon; it affects individuals and society and causes disruption, anxiety, stress, stigma, and xenophobia. The behaviour of an individual as a unit of society or a community has marked effects on the dynamics of a pandemic.
The pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Continuous lockdown and need of social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but have a tremendous psychological affect on the general population and has led to feelings of isolation and loneliness which increases stress and anxiety.
Quarantine and self isolation has created a negative impact and caused an increased level of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour. The psychological reactions to COVID-19 pandemic may vary from a panic behavior or collective hysteria to pervasive feelings of hopelessness and desperation which are associated with negative outcomes including suicidal behavior.
In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress, anxiety and depression.
Hence this situation requires raising awareness in public, which can be helpful to deal with this calamity.
COVID-19 has affected the mental health of individuals at several layers of society, ranging from the infected patients, and health care workers, to families, children, students, patients with mental illness, and even workers in other sectors.
Research during the pandemic points to concerns around poor mental health and well-being for children and their parents, particularly mothers, as many are experiencing challenges with school closures and lack of childcare. Women with children are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than men with children
Research from prior economic downturns shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. During the pandemic, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss
During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder . Compared to all adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use and suicidal thoughts.
Compared to nonessential workers, essential workers are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, starting or increasing substance use and suicidal thoughts during the pandemic.
Given the pandemic’s implications for both people with new or pre-pandemic mental health conditions, the crisis spotlights new and existing barriers to accessing mental health. Limited access to mental health care and substance use treatment is in part due to a current shortage of mental health professionals, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The pandemic has both short- and long-term implications for mental health and substance use, particularly for groups at risk of new or exacerbated mental health disorders and those facing barriers to accessing care. Phased COVID-19 vaccinations are taking place across the country, perhaps signaling that the end of the pandemic is on the horizon.
Specific preventive strategies at the community level such as (i) implementing effective communication and (ii) providing adequate psychological services should be carried out in order to attenuate the psychological and psychosocial impact of COVID-19 outbreak.
Health education needs to be enhanced using online platforms, social fear related to COVID-19 needs to be correctly addressed while stigma and discrimination need to be recognized as major challenges able to reinforce the feelings of uncertainty in a period of social crisis.
Scientific community should provide appropriate information to attenuate the impact of anxiety, frustration, and all the negative emotions which represent important barriers to the correct management of social crisis and psychological consequences related to pandemic.
Marginalized populations such as elderly individuals or those with psychological problems should be able to actively consult with clinical psychotherapists to rapidly detect warning signs.
Hence in conclusion, Implementing community-based strategies to support resilience and psychologically vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 crisis is fundamental for any community. The psychological impact of fear and anxiety induced by the rapid spread of pandemic needs to be clearly recognized as a public health priority for both authorities and policy makers who should rapidly adopt clear behavioral strategies to reduce the burden of disease and the dramatic mental health consequences of this outbreak.
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