After effects of covid-19 on mental health

By Sukanya Sharma

Source: Indonesia Research Partnership on Infectious Disease

It was an unprecedented time when the world was collectively fighting against a common enemy, coronavirus. Along with the effect of COVID-19 on physical health of an individual, COVID-19 also has had an unusual impact on mental health. The lockdown imposed was a necessary evil which came with its fair share of drawbacks.

One area of unexpected COVID-19 impact has been the prevalence of mental health problems. Everyone during the pandemic struggled with losses, be it loss of friends, family, job and alienation due to the lockdown imposed. There has been an upsurge of anxiety and stress related disorders that largely owe their emergence or intensity to the pandemic.

Mental illnesses causes dysfunction where the individual is unable to carry out normal basic tasks of everyday life. The cognitive effects of mental disorders commonly include loss of concentration, impairing  attention, memory recall, planning, organizing, reasoning and problem solving. Physiological effects of mental disorders can include high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and elevated stress hormones. Another consequence of uncontrolled mental health can be suicide. This explains why the world’s suicide burden was severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hence mental health disorders pose a serious threat to the recently reinstated economies of the world. Even though the pandemic is better under control, the mental health problems that began during the pandemic persist. According to a recent Oxford study, one in three COVID-19 survivors receive a neurological or mental diagnosis within six months of contracting the virus.

Mental disorders have an extensive effect on all aspects of life including politics, economy and society. This can be clearly seen in the report published by WHO, stating that depression and anxiety [most common mental disorders] cost the global economy one trillion dollars (US) each year. The consequential step of Bhubeshwar police to start a suicide prevention helpline due to booming rates of suicide showcase that tackling mental health problems require awareness and urgent contemplation.

In order to lessen the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on mental health, WHO also suggests that nations:

Apply a whole-society strategy to promoting, defending, and caring for mental health, particularly by providing social and financial safety nets to protect individuals from domestic abuse or poverty and by broadly disseminating information on COVID-19 to dispel myths and encourage mental health.

Ensuring that mental health and psychosocial assistance are widely accessible, by expanding access to self-help and encouraging community initiatives.

Support recovery from COVID-19 by building mental health services for the future.

Hence the duty is now upon the government and community members to tackle the ever growing problem of mental health disorders.

About the Author

Sukanya is a third year medical student from India. You can connect with her on LinkedIn below.