Uncertainty has become rather ubiquitous these days. The present and the future come with reduced guarantee. Unanswered questions about the safety of oneself and others loom large: Will this pandemic end or get worse? Will you or your loved ones get infected despite taking precautions? What will happen to your job or your education? When will you meet your friends or grandparents? Will you have to continue in this online mode forever? The uncertainties create fear and anxiety in the human mind and have a huge impact on overall mental health. A review published in The Lancet said that the separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, boredom, and uncertainty can cause deterioration in an individual’s mental health status. These lead to feelings of sadness, irritability, confusion, agitation, anger, loneliness, etc. Many people in various studies reported feeling anxious or depressed most of the time. And recent studies have found 1 in 3 Covid survivors have reported symptoms of mental illness within six months after recovery.
Different groups are facing different mental health problems. Children are showing behavioral problems after not being able to get out of homes and meet their friends. Young children find it difficult to understand why they have to stay locked in their homes and not all parents have the patience to deal with their child’s questions and worries. People with mental illness and substance abuse problems cannot access rehabilitation centers due to the fear of getting the virus. Pre-existing mental illnesses may exacerbate. There is online therapy but it comes with many limitations, some as basic as not having a stable internet connection. Many people have lost their jobs and the stress of the financial crisis contributes to helplessness. Physical isolation and the associated anxiety have gripped the elderly who already feel distanced from their family. Moreover, they are most vulnerable to the virus. Those who have the virus have to deal with isolation and anxiety related to whether they will recover or not, how long will it take, how long will they have to stay away from their loved ones etc. Many even develop PTSD. In the case of health workers they often feel overburdened and anxious as they are at risk of getting the virus themselves and sometimes they live on their own away from their family to not put them at risk. Many people have lost their loved ones to the virus. They may find themselves with little resources to deal with the loss.
Now more than ever, we need to acknowledge and address this. Speak up and seek help. This pandemic has affected everyone and each ones journey is different. Some are more resilient while others tend to close up, or act out in ways they cannot even imagine. People need to know that asking for support is acceptable and ok! You can seek help by speaking out to a family member or a close friend. Negative thoughts often take over and cast a shadow of doubt. It is important to stay positive and learn to control these thoughts, and in time it does get better.
There is no denying if we don’t deal with the psychological ripples of the uncertain times; mental health may become the next pandemic. There is a possibility of a wave of mental health challenges emerging in the near future, which may have equally challenging repercussions. Since prevention is better than cure, it is crucial for people to consult a professional for regular mental health check-ups.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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