Mental health during the COVID Pandemic
With recent events, attention has been increasingly drawn towards mental health issues. In the world, 10.7% (2017) of the world population had some form of a mental disorder. In 2017, 197·3 million (95% UI 178·4–216·4) people had mental disorders in India, including 45·7 million (42·4–49·8) with depressive disorders and 44·9 million (41·2–48·9) with anxiety disorders. Mental disorders affected one in seven Indians of varying severity in 2017. The proportional contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India has almost doubled since 1990. Substantial variations exist between states in the burden from different mental disorders and in their trends over time.
“Mental health repercussions regarding what is happening during this pandemic for people today and beyond, will really be a problem,” Dr Petsanis says. “In general, stress behaviour for many, many people brings a lot of problems.”
Health care workers, in particular, are stressed with both the aftercare of the patients and the threat of the looming pandemic. With the additional threat of economic instability, an increased risk of heart diseases is on the rise because of the accumulated stress. The extremely long hours have taken its toll in the high-pressure environment. Additionally, they may have been exposed to trauma or faced moral dilemmas relating to challenges in the delivery of high-quality care, possibly due to a lack of experience or equipment, or as a result of low staffing levels.
These unprecedented circumstances are likely to increase the risk of mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, other anxiety disorders, substance misuse and suicide. Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are also at increased risk of infection, and by extension, have to contend with the risk of infecting their families.
The good news is that health-care managers can strongly influence a Health care worker’s experience of being supported and their exposure to workplace pressures during the post-crisis period. Studies of Health care workers dealing with previous infectious disease outbreaks show the powerful effect that supportive managers have on the mental health of their staff, whereas evidence from military studies show that a phased return to ‘normal’ work is also beneficial.
The UN has urged governments around the world to take the mental health consequences seriously and ensure widespread availability of mental health support. WHO has published guidelines for communities … even a children’s book.