COVID-19 and Our Mental Health
As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers, and people with underlying health conditions. In Public Mental Health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol, and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behavior are also expected to rise. The world population is already heavily affected, issues of service access and continuity for people with developing or existing mental health conditions are also now a major concern, along with the mental health and well-being of frontline workers. As part of WHO public health response, and working with partners to develop sets of new materials on the mental health and psychosocial support aspects of COVID-19, some considerations have been developed by WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Use as a series of messages that can be used in communications to support mental and psychosocial well-being in different target groups during the outbreak. COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries, in many geographical locations, and here are some of the things we need to be cognizant of especially when dealing with affected persons: –
- Do not attach the disease to any particular ethnicity or Nationality.
- Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in, and from any country. People who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion, and kindness.
- Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or “the diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, and after recovering from COVID-19 their life will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones. It is important to separate a person from having an identity defined by COVID-19, to reduce stigma.
- Minimize watching, reading, or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources and mainly so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones.
- Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not rumors and misinformation.