It is now almost evident that our world seemed to have entered into an endless loop of new outbreaks of variants of the coronavirus that led to the COVID 19 pandemic. It is also clear that in spite vaccination and awareness we the human race seems to be dangerously unprepared for all its implications even in third year of this ongoing pandemic.
Till December 2021 it is believed that this pandemic was still active in almost 200 countries and has led to the deaths of more than 5.3 million people. This overwhelming grief has impacted mental health of the entire human population.
Research indicates that mental health worsened during the Coronavirus crisis.
Children’s Mental Health
According to The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health – UNICEF’s most comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century – even before COVID-19, children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them. Children and young people could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come, UNICEF warned in its flagship report in 2021.
With COVID-19 heading into its third year, the impact on children and young people's mental health and well-being continues to weigh heavy. According to UNICEF, at least one child out of seven has been directly affected by lockdowns on a global scale. Approximately 1.6 billion children have lost some or all of their education during the crisis. In addition to disruptions to routines, education, and health, many young people are feeling angry, fearful, and unsure about their futures. For instance, an online survey in China in early 2020, cited in The State of the World’s Children, indicated that around a third of respondents reported feeling scared or anxious.
Women’s Mental Health
Some studies have indicated that women are at higher risk of anxiety (45.52% vs. 27.98%) and stress (62.21% vs. 51.66%) than men. Also, women worse self-rated their physical health if they compared it to other people at the same age. Women generally also show significantly higher scores in anxiety and perceived stress, and they felt physically worse than men. Even if the fatality rate has been twice higher for men than for women, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected women more than men, both as frontline workers and at home.
Many countries have reported an increase in domestic violence cases after the viral outbreak. Asking for more support with increased caregiving and domestic burden can trigger domestic violence against women. In countries where lockdown is observed, home is unfortunately not always a safe space. The exacerbation of gender-based violence may not receive the attention needed in the context of the pandemic. The pandemic has been particularly distressing for women during specific situations such as pregnancy.
Men’s Mental Health
Research suggests that many men have suffered in silence for years. Men are far less likely than women to reach out for help when they are feeling low, according to 2019 analysis from the American Journal of Men's Health. It may have taken the loneliness of the pandemic for men to understand that they can reach out for help, and that there are more effective ways to cope than silence.
In terms of mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a mixed bag. For many people, pandemic-related stress has become a defining factor of daily life. At the same time, many people have seen stress from other sources decrease. But the overall effect of these changes on mental health varies, and surveys have shown that some men have been experiencing more negatives than positives.
Mental health among Queer people
Queer people reported the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted their mental health both more widely and more severely than their non-queer peers. They report that their sleep, appetite, and temper were negatively impacted at higher rates than non-queer people. They also report that they were more likely to seek out mental health care during the pandemic than non-queer people, including via telemedicine.
A range of factors may contribute to these mental health disparities among queer people during the COVID pandemic, including different work, life, and health care experiences.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection ? they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death.
COVID-19 is anxiety-provoking for patients, non-patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals due to its infective potential, the uncertainty of manifestations and prognosis, restrictions imposed by the government leading to dysfunction in social, occupational, psychological, familial, economic and other domains.
Anxiety, depression, symptoms of screen addiction, overthinking, changes in dietary and sleep habits, loss of social empathy and diminishing of human interaction has been witnessed having direct outcomes on overall health of people. The devastation of the pandemic — millions of deaths, economic strife and unprecedented curbs on social interaction — has already had a marked effect on people’s mental health. Researchers worldwide are investigating the causes and impacts of this stress, and some fear that the deterioration in mental health could linger long after the pandemic has subsided.
Taking care of your mental health during Omicron's uncertainty
After living in a pandemic for so long, you might be exhausted, weary, and fed up. The additional uncertainty of Omicron might be adding even more stress to you. Please know that you are not alone,and it is hard for a lot of people these days, but together we can and will get through this. If social plans must be canceled, find alternative ways to communicate with others, such as phone calls, video calls, texting, or voice notes. Rumor and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about coronavirus can help you feel more in control.
Anyone in psychosocial distress in India can use the following resources
KIRAN – 1800 599 0019 (24×7) — 13 Indian languages.
NIMHANS – 080 – 4611 0007 (24×7) — Multiple languages.
ICall – 9152987821 (Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.).
Pallium India – +91 759 405 2605 (Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) — Eight Indian languages.
CoHope Helpline – +91 98185 40802 (10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.).