Will Mental Health Crisis Become Another Pandemic?

Mental Health Crisis
Mental Health Crisis

For people with underlying mental disorders, the prospect of staying indoors and restriction on movement due to coronavirus outbreak may cause more harm. This is unlike what we experienced in past years. Summer used to be a time to visit new places and have fun outdoors. But right now, the reality staring us in the face is that most part of the season will be spent behind closed doors. A second wave of the pandemic has hit most countries of the world.

Sad to say that the coronavirus raked what was left of some people’s emotional and mental stability, leaving them with nothing but more grief. As if that’s not enough, those who already had mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders experience a more serious decline in their mental health following covid-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, worse mental health conditions were probably observed. People often complain about how much stress, worry and depression the coronavirus was causing them. Research has shown a doubling in these stress level. The level of substance use and alcohol intake has risen by 25% as more workers resorted to working from home.

Worry for your family also

Individuals not only worry about their mental health but that of family and friends as well. Don’t forget that many people also lost their jobs in the heat of the pandemic. When you combine this worry with joblessness, financial obligations not met, and social limitation set by the lockdown rules, you will how bad the mental health of people around the world has become.

As if on cue, some people in the midst of all the helplessness brought by covid-19 have contracted the disease. A third of the number of persons infected with covid-19 are said to be experiencing persistent neurological and cognitive symptoms like anxiety, inability to think, speech problems, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People even worry that the disease may have a permanent brain effect. The realisation that covid-19 or “LonghaulCOVID” as many countries of the world describe it is a new severe sickness, is glaring.

Research on disaster response reveals that most people can cope and don’t give in to the sudden stress caused by environmental changes. But a lot of persons lack the resilience against the effects of disaster, and with the prevalent high level of anxiety in the world, reports are an all high on cases of overdose and suicide, which are linked to coronavirus.

Although we are yet to realise it, covid-19 has birthed another pandemic – mental health problems. It is unfortunate that instead of increasing the availability of mental health support, the social distancing measures to curb coronavirus has resulted in a reduction of mental health services or access to it in a sector that is full of stigma and ill-equipped. Having seen the flaw, the need for healthcare systems to prioritise mental health and develop strategies to resolve rising issues is critical.

What can be done?

At all levels, medical staff should be trained on the effect of coronavirus on mental health. This includes leaders and workers in healthcare, and of course, first responders. Why is this important? Healthcare professionals saddled with the responsibility of treating covid-19 are well experienced in acute care but lack expertise in mental health. So, more training must be given to these experts in identifying, referring, and treating those affected with mental health problems. It should be integrated into routine medical care.

Going forward, there should be a synergy between healthcare providers in emergency care, acute care, continuing care, and community care pioneered by leaders in the sector to develop a functional plan aimed at diagnosing and caring for people having mental health problems.

In these critical times, healthcare givers, particularly nurses, are in a good position to take care of patients and the populace. Should you need mental health service. It will be of help to have stress management plans and strategies that’ll help patients cope. This includes lowering anxiety triggers by:

  • Switching off gadgets like phones and TVs that carry news of the pandemic
  • Putting the mind to work via reading and solving puzzles
  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Putting off smoking and drinking

It is important to create a daily routine for yourself if and when you feel bored and all alone. Nurses can also help remind their patients that though the world may be stuck, peace and happiness could be derived from simple things like being grateful and concentrating on better days ahead.

From the perspective that mental health issues differ from person to person, some cases may require detailed evaluation and treatment. This is where nurses should facilitate the reach of mental health support to patients.

Last thoughts

Globally, there are changes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. To comfort is the knowledge that scientists are working assiduously to resolve this problem. Even as we join hands together to keep ourselves safe, the mental health impact of this pandemic should be top of mind.

Hopefully, a vaccine for the coronavirus will be found and the virus contained. So, our memory of the pandemic may fade gradually. However, the associated mental health problems of covid-19 are not something that will easily be forgotten. Let us not forget that even as we speak, some persons are dealing with fresh anxiety issues.

This is a time where reaching out to friends, family, colleagues, staff, and neighbours is important. Let us ask about their welfare and build a bond that will remind everyone that indeed we need each other to survive. Sometimes the best vaccine is the bond of friendship that drives away loneliness and its cohorts. Give others a reason to live and be happy. Should you need mental health service, visit here.

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