In the crisis situation created globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, it is normal to feel stressed, confused and scared. The situation has plunged the world into a state of crisis where there has been a total of 3,917,991 infected cases with 270,740 deaths (may 8, 2020).
Despite the fact of having minimum numbers of cases of COVID 19, the Government of Nepal has made strict regulations to decrease the possible spreading.
The government has adopted preventive measures such as physical distancing and decreased mobility by implementing a national wide lockdown. It seems to have worked, as per the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Population. However with Nepal entering into the second stage of the novel corona virus transmission i.e. Local Transmission and increase in Rapid tests of COVID-19 through more designated testing facilities the numbers of infected cases has increased from 16 infected cases to 45 in just 6 days from April 16.
While most of the measures of Nepalese Government are in the direction of responding COVID 19 health consideration which seems to be very logical at the point seeing limited recourses. However, we should also consider the detrimental consequences of measures the government has implemented in trying to limit the spread of the virus.
It may over time adversely affect the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of citizens, health professionals and other people involved in COVID 19 responses.
According to recent research published on mental health “The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence”, quarantine was found to be associated with increased fear, stress, anxiety and to the utmost depression, OCD (Obsessive). Compulsive Disorder) or suicidal thoughts among the general population.
The measures administered by the government might seem to be difficult and at some point, against our beliefs and norms but as evident this is one of the most effective and applicable ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The fear and anxiety of contracting the virus are there but excluding gatherings, maintaining physical distances from loved ones and others has increased feeling of isolation among people. Moreover, loss of daily earning for families fully dependent upon daily wages may create serious financial problems for them; A sudden transition from active working life to be quarantined at home may also increase the sense of confinement among youth which might increase the fear, stress, and anxiety. In a worst-case situation, this may lead to mental health conditions and / or suicidal ideations. Therefore, it is most crucial to immediately increase the psychological, social and familial support to everyone.
In these times, it is a must to have a concern and take care of one’s mental health and wellbeing. We need to realize that it’s difficult, but we can cope with this emergency; We can deal with the fear of COVID 19 and the stress of being quarantined or restricted at home. For this, we just need to keep ourselves occupied and share our thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. We can do that by remaining connected with our closed ones by the phones and social or other digital media. We can also plan for more interactive video chats with friends and family.
We can speak to our closed one or with one we trust, still, staying at home. It will help us to remain calm and less anxious. If we feel increasingly anxious despite taking proper precaution measures, then we can try seeking professionals’ help. We can take telephone and online counseling services from experts and peer counselors; There are many such services available.
Sometimes making an efficient plan to spend time can help us to remain occupied throughout the day, but following ordinary day-to-day routine is more recommended by mental health experts. We can spend our leisure time being creative, indulging in hobbies that help us to remain active.
Staying connected and updated on recent events is crucial but we should always be careful and follow trustworthy mediums of information. If the news makes us feel anxious or confused, we must limit the time of exposure. Social media could help to stay in touch with people but could also make us feel anxious with stories and posts of worries. Thus, we should consider taking regular breaks or limit the time of social media use.
These measures can help us to maintain wellbeing. Time has demanded maybe a lot from us, but we can take advantage of this time to practice self-care and strengthen our family bonds. It will surely help us to fight the emergency and its consequences with courage still, maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.