Mental Health during COVID-19
The World Health Organization defines Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. During this COVID-19 pandemic, there is concern about staying safe and healthy. Many public health measures have been put in place to contain the spread of the disease and to ensure the people remain healthy.
Looking at this definition, being healthy does not mean keeping off COVID-19 alone, but ensuring that there is physical, social and mental wellbeing. How then can we achieve a state of health in these difficult times?
I will address the issue of mental health in this article and in subsequent articles I will address the social and physical dimensions.
The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale. It is understandable that during times like this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus. While it is important to stay informed, it is important to continue to look after ourselves and each other during these difficult times. In order to look after your mental health, you should manage exposure to media coverage, be it mainstream media or social media. The more you get consumed by media coverage the greater the fear and anxiety will be. There will obviously be the “fake news”, so you have to be careful in deciding what is true and what is fake and how this can impact on your health. Just like most things, excessive consumption is not healthy.
Remain calm, but at the same time be very cautious. Remaining calm during the pandemic does not mean that you are not concerned. It is better to remain calm, as this will allow you to make better decisions and to carefully think through situations. You must do your best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to positively manage the outbreak. Be careful with what information you share with your friends and family, as this can increase their levels of fear and anxiety. Ensure you are following directives issued by the government, medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.
It is important that we show compassion and kindness to one another, because in these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. We must remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity, and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity.
Remember to stay healthy by actively looking after your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends, staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support if required.
Finally, adapting strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine is very important. Human beings are mobile and tactile creature, that is, we must move around and interact with our environment. These measures do limit our ability to do so and can cause addition stress and anxiety. Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of helplessness and fear.
Remember to look after your mental health and reach out to someone for support if needed.