The major developments of the last two days, all over the world, is the focus on mental health aspects of COVID 19.
The Guardian (‘Urgent studies needed’ into mental health impact of coronavirus
Effects of lockdown and of Covid-19 itself could be deep and long-term, say researchers by Nicola Davis the Guardian, Thu 16 Apr 2020 )
The article summarised the position statement of a group of mental health professionals in The Lancet Psychiatry(April 15,2020). The salient observations from this important article are:
“The pandemic is clearly having a major social and psychological impact on the whole population, increasing unemployment, separating families and various other changes in the way that we live that we know are generally major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm” .
“We think it is also possible that there will be an impact on mental health more specifically in Covid patients in ways that are linked to the brain and the body’s response to viral infection”
“The long-term mental health impacts of this unprecedented pandemic – on people with existing mental illness and other vulnerable groups, on the health and social care workforce, and on the healthy population – are not yet fully known but they may be equally unprecedented”
“When we are thinking about this as a health crisis we need to keep thinking about mental and physical health together and not apart”
The other document is the survey of professionals and general public abiout the impact and the measures used to cope with the pandemic.
The common challenges were:
becoming mentally unwell,
access to care, and
The common methods utilised are:
Staying connected People described how keeping in regular contact with friends and family, often online, was a key factor in maintaining mental health and wellbeing. Many were enjoying spending time together as a family, and others were benefiting from volunteering and helping others.
Keeping busy Stakeholders and general population respondents shared a range of activities that were keeping them busy and enhancing their sense of wellbeing during the pandemic. These included hobbies, crafts, art, music, reading, film and television and home improvements.
Physical activity Again, both stakeholders and general population respondents described the beneficial effects of exercise, such as walking, running and online exercise classes. Being able to access nature and the outdoors were also key.
Staying calm Many people highlighted the relaxing and calming effects of mindfulness and meditation, while others described the importance of faith and prayer. Some people suggested that their pets helped them stay calm.
Information intake Some stakeholder respondents explained that they were managing their media intake. Some were minimising their access to news and social media, in order to reduce their levels of anxiety. Some drew comfort from simply following the official guidance on social distancing and staying safe.
Maintaining routine Having a daily plan or routine was helping some stakeholders. Others described the importance for their wellbeing of continued access to formal support and care, as well as being looked after by relatives. Both stakeholders and general population respondents described the importance of work in providing a sense of purpose during an otherwise unsettling and uncertain time.
The other topic receiving attention is the mental health of health workforce. There is more and more evidence of the vulnerabilities and the need for interventions.
My take home message is to DEVELOP VIABLE, PRACTICAL emotional health promotion activities, emotional stress management skills and DISSEMINATE to EMPOWER The whole population. I will carry forward this message in the coming days and weeks with specific action points.
I end this post with a very practical and entertaining way of addressing the emotional mental health needs of children( Nurturing Children through this Pandemic [A Family Guide] developed by [Association for Psychiatric Social Work Professionals, Bengaluru, INDIA]
Thanks to Dr.Saikumar for sharing this importabnrt document.
Please read the three documents( full documents in the document section) and join hands to finds SOLUTIONS.
Prof. R.Srinivasa Murthy.
Apriil 17 2020.