The Centre has urged states and Union Territories to put in place and strengthen mechanisms to spread awareness about rising psychosocial concerns among people during the coronavirus pandemic, saying acceptance of mental health issues is relatively low due to the stigma attached.
In a letter addressed to Chief Secretaries and the administrators of all states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan asserted that mental health services including advocacy and awareness campaigns should essentially become part of the government’s response to COVID-19. She also stressed the need to bring mental health issues to foreground and make them accepted as common ailments.
According to mental health expert Gurpreet Singh, there are various factors, including financial hardships, because of which people are facing problems related to mental health.
“It’s been more than three months now that a nationwide lockdown has been imposed by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were already existing psychological problems that people were facing like stress, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, etc but because more severe threats have been caused amongst the people when it comes to their mental health. The people are more stressed now because of the risk of getting infected because of COVID-19 infection. They are also concerned about losing their jobs & loved ones. It could also be seen as a prospect of financial hardships & reduced interaction with family and friends exacerbates the existing mental health issues,” said Gurpreet Singh of ‘The Center of Healing.’
According to Gurpreet, issues related to mental health are prevalent in urban and metropolis cities because people often face social disparities along with financial problems and job insecurity.
“There are various reasons why mental health issues are more prevalent in urban and metropolis cities as people migrate to cities for better opportunities, better services, etc but in order to seek these things, there could be a huge risk for mental health problems because of poverty, unemployment, personal crises or staying away from their loved ones. People coming from urban & small cities tend to find difficulty adjusting to the city culture. They face social disparities or they may feel reluctant to interact with people. Also, due to the increased population, pollution, fast-paced traffic, mental health problems are triggered. People may find themselves feeling unsafe and would live in constant stress because of the increasing crime rates in the city. People in cities do not get to spend more time with nature because they are so busy in their lives and they do not have enough leisure time,” he said.
Experts believe that the main reason behind the rise in cases of mental health is staying away from a lot of social activities that have been restricted to control the outbreak of coronavirus.
“While staying at home, it is not only important to take care of our physical health but also our mental health. Be in touch with your friends and family through social media, calls, and messages. Stay connected to your loved ones during these hard times. It is important to make a routine that should include exercise as it helps to relieve stress and helps you to sleep better which also boosts your overall mood. It is important to be informed and updated but not on the cost of your mental health,” Gurpreet said.