Emotional Health during the Pandemic
The emotional impact of pandemic can be understood by a statement made, over 102 years back, during the 1918 Spanish Flu, by the Father of the Nation, Sri. Mahatma Gandhi:
‘This protracted and first long illness in my life thus afforded me a unique opportunity to examine my principles and to test them’ (From Pale Rider, Laura Spinney,2017).
During the last two weeks of the ‘lockdown’ there is good illustration of the impact of the pandemic on the emotional health, as well as the focus on empowering individuals with emotional health skills.
Wars and conflict situations have played in important role in the development of mental health care in the world. It was the psychological impact of the world wars, described variously as,”shell shock”, ” not yet diagnosed, nervous”, “battle fatigue” that brought to focus the effects of war on mental health of individuals and supported the effectiveness of psychological interventions during the first half of the 20th century. Further, it was the recognition of a proportion of the population not suitable for army recruitment during the Second World War that spurred the setting up of the National Institute of Mental Health in USA. The differences in the presentation of the psychological symptoms among the officers and the soldiers opened up new ways of understanding the psychiatric reactions to stress.
For example, year 2014, the 100th anniversary of the first World War.70 anniversary of the Normandy victory. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan massacre. It is more than a decade of involvement of foreign forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. World Health Organisation(W.H.O.) has published a comprehensive progress report titled ‘Building Back Better-Sustainable mental health care after emergencies’describing the progress in Afghanistan, Burundi, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Somalia, Sri Lanka,Timor-Leste and West Bank and Gaza Strip. For each of the countries, there is a description of the context , turning the emergency into an opportunity to build back better, progress made and the lessons learnt.
Against this background, the focus on mental health among people, professionals along with dissemination of personal self-care skills makes this the worst of times having a potential for best of times to make mental health important in the lives of the general population.
I recall, this observation shared by Prof,Norman Sartorius,
“ it is only when people make mental health, one of higher priority in the values of life, that mental health will loose the stigma”.
This was in 1987, when Prof.Sartorius, Prof.Wig and myself were in Aden, South Yemen (at that time the Yemen was two countries- South and North Yemen) to develop the National Mental Health Programme.
The current situation, however challenging it is, I consider, can be an opportunity to discover the importance of emotional health and spirituality.
From the following compilation, representative and not exhaustive, there is something happening in the general population and the professionals.
NIMHANS, MNH and Pandemic
Coronavirus Crisis: Can Lockdown Trigger Mental Health Issues?
Dr. Vivek Murthy: Mental & Physical Health During Coronavirus
What Should Parents Do For Their Kids During COVID-19 Outbreak?
How Self-Acceptance is essential in Spirituality
Practical tips to take care of your mental health during the stay in
Audio Programmes from All India Radio, BBC News , CNN and psychiatrists :
Karnataka MNH message:
Inspirational song: Dr. Ajai Singh, Mumbai
Ye daur guzar hi jayega
Relaxation Exercise from Sakhi-Saheli programme(Apr 3 2020)
Meditation by Dr.Deepak Chopra
CNN: Faith help cope with loss
This section will be a growing phenomenon. Look out for more resources.