Corona: It is also important to pay attention to mental health in times of epidemics. 2021

 Corona: It is also important to pay attention to mental health in times of epidemics. 2021

Infectious diseases have a profound psychological effect on all, even those who are not affected by the virus. Our response to these diseases is not only based on medical knowledge but also our social understanding.

A sign is seen down a London street regarding self isolation as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. London, Britain March 21, 2020 REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

(Photo: Reuters)

The psychological consequences of a global pandemic also affect the social fabric.

The famous statement by Brock Chishholm, the first director general of the World Health Organization, who was also a psychiatrist, is: 'Without mental health , there cannot be true physical health. '

His words support this idea. After years of research, there is no doubt that mental and physical health are fundamentally and inseparably interlinked.

Today, though one has to go through a flood of correct and fake information about Kovid-19 to read any news, but not enough information is available about the mental health aspect of this ongoing epidemic.

This is surprising because scientists have recorded that historically infectious epidemics increase anxiety and nervousness in a big way in common people.

The new disease is unfamiliar in its nature and no inference can be made about its results. Also it is imperceptible or invisible. All its features make it a source of serious concern.

During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, researchers outlined several mental health concerns along with the disease, including depression, stress and psychosis, and panic attacks.

There are several reasons for this. People infected with SARS and receiving treatment may also have suffered social isolation. This happened because they were kept in isolation.

His illness may also have been seen as a stigma and due to which he may have felt discriminated against. It is also possible that people with SARS may have gone to the crime house to infect others.

Presently, it is necessary to pay attention to these factors in order to understand the experiences of the people affected by Kovid-19 and to make public health policy. By doing this, their mental health concerns will also be addressed.

It is clear that infectious diseases have a profound psychological effect on all people - even those who are not affected by the virus.

Our response to these diseases is not only based on medical knowledge but also our social understanding.

In the Internet age, we get most of the information online. This is a behaviorist change, which has revolutionized people's interaction on health issues in a revolutionary way.

For example, in a study conducted on Twitter to analyze the outbreak of Ebola and Swine Flu , it was found that Twitter users expressed a deep fear of both these diseases.

News media articles and social media posts have a tendency to sensationalize the outbreak and disseminate misinformation, leading to fear and panic.

However, during the outbreak of the pandemic, these responses are considered to be proportional to the situation at the time and were considered a means of spreading awareness.

But at the same time, this study also found that these tipets on social media served to 'incinerate' the fear and tension among the people.

Perhaps this is why many certified health organizations, including the World Health Organization , have recommended that people seek information and advice from trusted health professionals to avoid fake information leading to stress and anxiety.

But even valid information is not always good. During the pandemic, information about what to do and what not to do from all around is bombarded. But how can it result, it is not considered.

Actually, people suffering from nervousness etc. already have mental health related problems. Some people have involuntary recurrent handwashing disease.

Public messages encouraging repeated hand washing can put such people in danger and increase their mental illness.

People suffering from post-traumatic stress or especially those who are concerned about health and are worried about getting affected by an illness may have panic attacks and may give more stressful reactions.

Apart from the psychological consequences of a health crisis, it also always has an interesting psycho-economic effect, which is reflected in our consumerist nature when we want to accumulate more and more germicides, face masks, toilet rolls and food items. Huh.

This is not just because there is a shortage of these things in the media, news is coming, but also because we want to keep our lives under control.

On the other hand, the danger is that due to involvement in such behavior, more important security measures such as washing hands or following the instructions of confinement may distract our attention.

Hoarding also indicates that people still think health is a personal matter - a misconception. But, in reality these goods are needed by the whole community, so that they can maintain cleanliness as a community.

Within reach and universal healthcare is essential for maintaining public health.

The psychological impact of a global pandemic also affects the social fabric.

For example, according to sociologist Stanley Cohen , in times of moral panic, 'a situation, an event, a person or a group of individuals is presented as a threat to social values ​​and interests. As the growing awareness about HIV / AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, gay men were targeted and abused in many countries because they were seen as responsible for the virus infection. '

Similarly, many groups have blamed the spread of Kovid-19 on a particular community - the people of Hubei province where the virus was born in November 2019 - who were held responsible due to their unusual practices and cultural habits. Is going.

There have been many cases of overt discrimination due to the emergence of pre-existing racial prejudices.

For example, literal and physical abuse can be seen worldwide with people of Chinese origin.

Right-wing leaders in the US and Europe have used this situation to demand more stringent immigration regulations and to increase prejudice against those seeking asylum.

To India to Northeast students studying in Mumbai to be spread the video on campus to create "awareness" about the video is made and the career of the virus, "the carrier without their permission complained is.

Finally, it is important to understand that during the global epidemic — or at the time of any public emergency — people already at the margins of society are affected more than those living close to the center.

Along with the mainstream media, social media is also full of urges for people to stay and work at home so that they can avoid getting infected and spread by the virus - but it is not easy for the marginalized. , Who do manual labor to earn daily wages.

The politics of access is also visible in the field of education: not all families have access to technology that can help their children get education at home.

It is also a privilege to be able to work at home - a privilege that gives priority to productivity at the expense of paying attention to mental health.

It is clear that mental and physical health are interlinked in the same way as mental and physical illness.

Government policy makers need to keep this fact in mind while making a counter-policy on Kovid-19.

(Farah Manekshaw is studying Applied Psychology (Clinical) at Tata Institute of Social Research, Mumbai.)