Scenario of Nepal
COVID -19 pandemic has severely affected the socio-economic and mental health status of people around the globe due to lockdown and uncertainty of eradication of the virus in the future.
In Nepal, the spread of the virus has been increasing rapidly with positive cases are 18242 and the death of 43 people until 24th July 2020. Despite the lockdown for three months, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal has threatened the livelihoods of people affecting various socioeconomic aspects such as education, occupation, social relation, physical and mental health conditions.
To cope with the pandemic situation, several schools and universities have been conducting virtual classes to deliver the lectures. Likewise, people employed at various organizations (public and private sector) are working from home (WFH) remotely.
Yet, there are many companies being shut down due to loss, daily wage workers like laborers, artists & actors, shopkeepers of many types of items, travel-agencies, restaurant workers and owners, entrepreneurs, and many other professions are having a hard time.
Mental Health of People Affected By The Pandemic
Various studies showed that people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder.
According to UNICEF, Activist and volunteer Sudip Gautam highlighted the particular social, emotional and economic toll that the crisis is taking on members of the LGBTIQ community, many of whom are daily wage workers and artists. “The marginalization of the LGBTIQ community is worse during the lockdown” he said.
Some people are showing high degrees of psychological distress, such as healthcare workers, older adults, people with pre-existing conditions, children, those in precarious domestic situations, and fragile humanitarian and conflict settings. Together these groups make up maybe most of the people; these are our friends, family, neighbors, they’re us.
How Covid-19 is Affecting Mental Health?
The Lockdown and lack of knowledge and awareness to cope with COVID – 19 has resulted in various mental health disorders for diverse groups in the society such as older adults, care providers, and people with underlying health conditions.
The most common mental disorders are low mood, irritability, stress, anxiety, insomnia, emotional exhaustion, anger, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms.
Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as a very common problem in the studies. In cases where parents and children were quarantined together, the mental health toll became even steeper.
More than 28% of quarantined parents justified a diagnosis of “trauma-related mental health disorder” in one study.
Key reasons for stress thrive in lockdown are risk of infection, fear of becoming sick or of losing loved ones, as well as the prospect of financial hardship. Anecdotally, in many developed countries, the police call-outs for mental health emergencies are going up and the number of suicides along with domestic violence is also increasing.
Even those people who were not in need of mental health support may seek out for support in the future because of the effects of social isolation. People are becoming more depressed as well because of inactivity.
COVID-19 has instilled a level of fear and anxiety in us all. As it has isolated us physically, we have felt isolated mentally. We have all felt feelings of depression as we missed friends, family and loved ones.
Yet for many of us, these feelings are just a small glimpse into what it is like to be living with anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges. For many, these issues were a daily struggle before COVID-19 and they will be afterwards--perhaps made worse by the pandemic.
Much more action needs to be taken regarding policy. Our neglect of mental health is obvious from the insufficient commitments we devote to it; the crisis response is now hampered by our lack of investment in mental health promotion, prevention and care before the pandemic.
UN Secretary-General António Gutteres launched a policy brief on the need for more action on mental health.
He outlined three priorities:
These recommendations are as good as or better than any medical prescription; they will fundamentally change millions of lives.
Efforts to Reduce Negative Impacts on Mental Health
UN Nepal has provided webinar sessions to young volunteers on mental health and well-being conducted jointly by UNICEF, UNV, WHO, UNDP and the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Nepal.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s consistent plea has been for nations’ coronavirus responses to be based on empathy. “Compassion is a medicine,” he said in March. That compassion and solidarity applies just as much to our own approaches to mental health. Solidarity with those enduring mental health challenges, and a demand that we are all entitled to mental health services, must be a rallying cry for us all.
We know we need large-scale changes. Yet because of the scale of the Most of all, people must be aware that those who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our care, compassion, and benevolence.
When it comes to offering psychological support to their populations, most countries react very late and Nepal is much further behind in this scenario. The problem prevailing, the vast majority of mental health needs remain unaddressed. Hence, we as wise people should keep in touch with our circle of people, elders who are mostly neglected and others who may be experiencing it difficult to cope during the period.
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How would you describe your mental health during the lockdown? Give us your views in the comments.
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