The world that we live in today is gripped in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has created havoc and chaos in many parts of the world.
The pandemic took us all by surprise. The need for medicines, testing, and vaccines has caused stress and confusion for many people. There is a new reality that we need to conform to daily.
While the coronavirus is responsible for weakening our physical health, we must not forget that it can be highly deteriorating for our mental health as well.
If you or your loved ones feel that you need somebody to talk to, remember that you can use the various resources available online and get all the help and support you need to navigate these challenging times. For example, check out the therapists and counselors at https://www.mytherapist.com/advice/ for all your needs, no matter where you are in the world.
Coronavirus pandemic and India
- Increase in Mental Illness
A survey in 2020 by the Indian Psychiatry Society (IPS) found that the number of mental illness cases had increased by 20% since the coronavirus caused lockdowns.
The IPS had previously stressed that the loss of employment, economic impact, isolation, and the rise in domestic abuse amidst the pandemic could trigger a full blown mental health crisis in India.
- Domestic Abuse
The pandemic revealed the ugly side of domestic abuse rampant in the country. Domestic violence complaints to the National Commission for Women (NCW) rose sharply in 2020 when most people were forced to stay home. The organization received a total of 23,722 complaints of crimes against women in 2020.
Survivors of domestic abuse can develop mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and intrusive thoughts.
If you or someone you love has been impacted by domestic abuse, check out these national helplines for assistance.
- At-Risk Elderly Populations
The elderly population is a highly vulnerable target population in the pandemic. Not just their physical health, but the past year has shown a significant drop in their mental well-being. According to the Agewell Foundation, there has been an increase of about 50% in mental health disorders caused by loneliness and restrictions in movement.
- School Shutdowns
COVID-19 has proved to be a challenging experience for the youth of the country. Younger children may be unable to understand the need for restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing. Schools have been closed down, and many children and teenagers cannot meet their friends or socialize. This can certainly heighten the risk of developing mental health disorders.
According to a UNICEF report, 1.5 million schools in India were shut down, impacting 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. Officials fear that if the schools remain shut down for a more extended period, children may not receive the psychosocial support they would need for their well-being.
Approximately 446,180 children, adolescents, and their caregivers in 17 states were provided with mental health and psychosocial support through the initiatives of UNICEF.
Adolescents and young adults of 18 to 25 are exhibiting high rates of emotional distress, as well as a marked increase in substance misuse. According to data from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), about 41% of people in their 20s were out of their jobs by May 2020.
However, India is moving towards improving its healthcare systems and lessening the virus’ impact on the economy.
- Drop in Unemployment
In January 2021, India saw an unemployment rate of over 6%, which was a significant improvement from nearly 24% in April 2020.
The rise in jobs and demand across the country proves to be a welcome reprieve for people who had been struggling to make ends meet. There seem to be more significant levels of optimism in the country, which proves to be a good sign.
- Modern Health and Technology
The pandemic has been an eye-opener when it comes to adopting technology for mental well-being and spreading awareness about the importance of mental health. Post-COVID, the central government increased the health budget from 1.2% to 2.5% of GDP.
Companies have begun to invest in technology to cater to the well-being of their employees. There has been a spike in the therapy bookings and mental well-being applications like Wysa for improved mental health in the work-from-home situation.
People are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of counseling and are adopting teletherapy. Health platform Lybrate reported a 180 per cent rise in online mental health consultations Practo has also seen a 200% growth in overall telepsychiatry consultations between March and May.
The pandemic has given us a chance to reconsider our priorities.
It has allowed us to look back on all the choices we have made in the world and in our personal lives and make time for the things that are truly important – love, family, friendship, and health.
The world is still ravaged by the remnants of the pandemic. Many people have lost their loved ones, jobs, and money, but things are slowly but surely getting better.
These challenging times have shown how resilience, optimism, and humanity can be our greatest and most reliable strengths to fight any battle we may face together as a species.