Mental Health and Coronavirus disease (Covid19)

Stress and worry are normal responses to any kind of threat, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty, it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covid has changed our lives in many ways. We are faced with new realities like social distancing, work from home, unemployment, etc. In these trying times it is particularly important that we take care of our mental health too.

Everyone reacts differently to stress. How you cope and respond to stress during covid depends upon your physical and mental health, your background, support system, financial condition etc.

Stress can cause the following:

  • Worry about yours and your loved one’s health

  • Worry about job/finances/future

  • Disturbed sleep and appetite

  • Difficulty in concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Increased use of Alcohol and other substances

  • Worsening of physical and mental health conditions

Covid has affected all of us, but some are more vulnerable to have mental health issues.

1) Elderly:

Stress, Anxiety, loneliness, distancing from their loved one’s during this pandemic can have long term effects on their physical and mental health.

How to cope with the stress?

  • Connect with your family and friends over phone/video call.

  • Try to keep yourself busy and distracted from the worries, engage in hobbies like gardening, writing, painting, cooking etc.

  • Spend some-time relaxing, practice yoga/meditation regularly to keep your mind calm

  • Have a routine that keeps you busy.

  • Engage in activities like playing board games, listening to music, watching old movies.

  • Decrease news time to prevent panic and misinformation.

2) Children:

In the current situation, a child might feel stressed and confused because of restriction of movement, closure of school, not able to meet friends, online classes etc.

Children respond differently to stress: being withdrawn, clingy, cranky, bed-wetting etc.

How to take care of your child’s mental health during covid?

        • First, check if it is your stress which is affecting your kids, if yes, take professional help. Children notice, absorb and react to the stress of their parents

        • Listen and try to understand your child.

        • Engage in activities with them like playing, painting, gardening etc.

        • Keep a schedule for the family as you are working from home, so that it is not confusing for your child as to when the parents will be free.

        • Explain and answer their queries about pandemic in a way they can understand.

        • Avoid watching disturbing news about covid in front of the kids.

        • Some children may show signs of increased anxiety and stress like- being withdrawn, cranky or agitated, difficulty in sleep, decreased appetite, crying for no reason, nightmares, not showing any interest in playing with friends, not talking as much as they used to. If you notice any of these signs in your child, take professional help.

        • Remember, shouting at kids will make you and them stressed. They are kids, they cannot stay quiet for the whole day just because you are working from home. Talk to them calmly, try to praise the behavior you want to see.

        • For more details check this manual (courtesy- UNICEF and Childline)

3) Pregnant and post-partum females:

Anxiety because of covid can be more in pregnant and post partum females and their families because of uncertainty. Worries related to getting infected, how will it affect the baby, is it safe to go to a hospital for delivery, is breast feeding safe in pregnancy.

How to manage your anxieties and worries?

  • Remember that mental health is as important as physical health for the growth of your baby.

  • Talk to your gynecologist and clarify all your queries regarding covid and its effect on your pregnancy and baby.

  • Decrease screen time, to prevent yourself from getting anxious and worried.

  • Keep your mother card ready if you are nearing delivery.

  • If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms consistently, talk to a mental health professional:

- Constant worries and negative thoughts about future

- Feeling sad and low most of the time

- Decreased appetite

- Not able to sleep properly, even if your baby is sleeping.

- Lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities

- Feeling mentally and physically exhausted