Science, Technology

Mental health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic

Protect your mental health

Apart from our physical health, it is important to protect our mental health in the face of the novel coronavirus crisis.

Anxiety is on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to become sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, fearful, or angry. The problem, however, is even more compounded for those with existing mental health conditions.

Supporting yourself and others

Recognizing the stress that this crisis is generating, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed guidelines for supporting mental and psychological well-being.

According to WHO, we have to protect ourselves if the constant stream of news is causing us distress.

“Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that cause you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors.”

The fear of losing control and difficulty in dealing with uncertainty are some of the characteristics of anxiety disorders. As you might expect, the coronavirus is exarcebating these fears.

Social media and stress

Triggered by social media posts? Take breaks from social networks, according to this BBC News article.

“‘A month ago I was clicking on hashtags and seeing all this unverified conspiracy rubbish and it would make me really anxious and I would feel really hopeless and cry,’ she says.

“Now she is careful about which accounts she tunes into and is avoiding clicking on coronavirus hashtags. She is also trying hard to have time away from social media, watching TV or reading books instead.”

Another useful tip is to avoid Googling symptoms, particularly if you have existing mental health problems. You will only be making yourself more anxious.

“Dr Google is not, and never will be, your friend, especially not when you are a sufferer of health anxiety. Nor will message-boards and forums. Try to remember that people visit these places when they have reason to be concerned. Once you start understanding it’s a skewed lens, you’ll be better able to put things in perspective.”

Helping yourself by helping others

Fundraiser for health workers

Thinking outside yourself can also help you protect your mental health.

“Since action can allay our anxieties, you may want to also consider what you can do to help others who may be more affected by the outbreak than you. Service workers, medical workers, hourly workers and people in the restaurant or entertainment industries may have their livelihoods paralyzed or have to put themselves in disproportionate danger. ‘It will be important for us as communities to think about how to support these individuals whose lives are going to be disrupted,’ Bufka says. ‘How can we even this burden and support those who have less options?'”

In the Philippines, for example, the mental health advocacy group #MentalHealthPH is supporting the Help for Health Movement fundraising campaign.

The campaign will donate Hugot Packs to health workers. The Hugot Packs are care packages that include vitamins, snacks, hygiene kits, and letters of appreciation.

In this time of crisis, let’s all learn to be kinder to each other.