Throwback: How COVID-19 has changed our perception of mental health  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Isolation, quarantine and other measures enforced to curb coronavirus transmission have precipitated mental health issues
- Being mentally or emotionally fit is much more than being free of depression or other psychological problems
- Here’s how we have improved and what we can do to build better mental health this year
New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has had immense impacts on our lives. The effects of the lockdown and other measures implemented to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on mental health are alarming, particularly for young people who are being hit hardest by pandemic loneliness. According to a recent study, young people under 30 and those with pre-existing mental health issues experienced the highest levels of loneliness during the lockdown. Experts have warned that the current pandemic could lead to a global mental health crisis. Yet, we can’t deny the fact that there’s been increased willingness to accept mental health as an essential part of one’s overall well-being.
Perhaps, ‘looking after your mental health’ grabbed the audience’s attention during the pandemic with news portals, particularly medical news sites, carrying a variety of mental health topics, ranging from ‘dealing with COVID anxiety’ to coping with ‘post-COVID stress disorder’. The stigma around mental health is shattering rapidly as more and more celebrities and famous people open up about their struggle with depression and anxiety. A lot of people are now downloading mindfulness and meditation apps onto their phones to help improve their mental health. In short, we’ve come a long way, although we still have a long way to go!
We spoke with Dr Anuneet Sabharwal, consultant psychiatrist, founder and director of The Happy Tree, Delhi, to take a look back at how the coronavirus pandemic has changed our perspective towards mental health. Read on.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way we talk about mental health?
Dr Anuneet Sabharwal: People who previously underestimated or misunderstood mental health issues have started to take them more seriously because of the spike in mental health conditions due to lockdowns imposed worldwide. There have been immense changes, including the ways mainstream society is viewing mental health, since a lot of people have themselves, faced such issues during the lockdown.
How have we improved or what has helped to advance our awareness of mental health as an essential part of overall health and well-being, and where do you think that we need to do better?
Dr Anuneet Sabharwal: The coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought humanity closer, opened doors of communication where none existed, and made the world a much smaller and more connected place. We need to work on our acceptance of others and their life choices, acknowledge their struggles, and support them as much as possible. We need to rid ourselves of the stigma that surrounds mental health.
What should we do to build better mental health?
Dr Anuneet Sabharwal: We can improve or build better mental health by following the rule of moderation of everything, and excess of none. This can be applied to all our indulgences, social interactions, and choices.