Effectiveness Of Interventions In Countering Covid-19 Pandemonium: A Psychological Perspective
The year of 2019 concluded with change, as the only constant. The unpropitious realm of 2020 began on 11 March when the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of Covid-19 as a pandemic. Researchers, doctors as well as the general population were confronted with a huge amount of perplexity and modification due to the paradigm shift in the world economy. Amidst the struggle to constantly adapt and adjust, the pandemic posed to put a test on the immunity as well as the resilience of individuals. Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory posed the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ which metaphorically has today become the greatest threat to humanity (Darwin, 1958). Moreover, significant sources have confirmed that people with certain conditions such as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and some other chronic illnesses are at greater risk in the face of the pandemic (Lupia et al., 2020). The role of mental health and its application with the human body has always been debated, but in either of the arguments; the functionality, presence and significance of the human mind cannot be undermined. The current study is therefore, an attempt to delve into aspects of mental health which would help maintain the resilience in individuals in the face of adversity. It is concerned with providing a solution-oriented approach to psychological distress. The role of mental health care providers also revolves significantly around the emotional distress caused by the pandemic (Pfefferbaum et al., 2020). However, the threat to life that is posed by the pandemic has reduced the number of options available to people. Although there are e-health facilities being made available in the large number of platforms, the limit posed always acts as a barrier. Therefore, there is an essential need for interventions that can help individuals to evaluate their mental health and build up resilience at the level of their own self. This will in terms help them better cope with the pandemic.
Researches have confirmed that Covid-19 outbreak has led to mental illnesses like anxiety, depression and insomnia at a global level (Julio et al.,2020). It has also been found that the people with pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression have shown an increase in the severity of the illness during these adverse times. (Rajkumar., 2020). Hao Yao (2020) in his article has drawn attention to the concerns relating to mental health patients and how they are more susceptible to the novel coronavirus due to their adverse state of mind. It has been argued that resistance to change in humans have both innate and social domains (John,2015). Due to this tendency, there has been stress posed in the everyday lives of people, covering all aspects, for the first time in decades. In the forthcoming chapters certain number of interventions have been discussed which shall be applicable to individuals suffering from mental health issues as well as those currently under constant stress due to the changes posed by the pandemic.
A comprehensive understanding of resilience is significant to establish the essential need of the interventions that follow. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) resilience is basically the capacity of the individuals to adapt themselves in the face of adversity. It is evident that the covid-19 pandemic has led to adverse changes in every aspect of human life. The mortality rate increased in patients who had diabetes along with Covid-19 disease (Agarwal, 2020). Resilience being a psychological factor has also shown an effect on the physical health of individuals. It was found that diabetic patients with low and moderate levels of resilience had greater distress and also worsening of conditions. Moreover, low levels of resilience in patients also showed decreased self-care activities (Yi, 2008). This further clarifies the significance of increased resilience in diabetic patients, in the face of pandemic, would be an important aspect to minimize the risk of mortality. It was found that patients of covid-19 were at a higher susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases (Madjid, 2020). Moreover, patients with pre-existing illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer especially the older population are at greater risk to the virus and this is also associated with the severity in their health conditions (Ganatra, 2020).
However, it was found that people with higher emotional resilience have lower levels of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity (Davis, 2009). Further research has pointed out that building resilience should be a part of the cancer-care regime (Seiler, 2019). While resilience as an asset has been discussed in the context of several stressful situations, dealing with mental health issues with the help of interventions is the major focus of this research.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH INTERVENTIONS IN THE FACE OF THE PANDEMIC
The vast arena of mental health had a significant impact when the ranch of contemporary positive psychology came into existence in the year of 1998. This branch opened new avenues to amalgamate the components of health and wellness with illness. It advances the branch of psychology into a holistic whole through its approach. Moreover, the schools of humanistic, existential, cognitive and behavioural psychology have always commanded prevalent mental health interventions. Some of these interventions can act not only as a cure but also as a means to prevent mental illnesses. Awareness and significance of these interventions, if well established; can serve to have practical utility in the everyday lives of people. Therefore, psychological intervention particularism is a pre-requisite against the pandemic.
The human brain has the tendency to be inclined more towards negativity. It was found that this ‘negative bias’ is due to the increased sensitivity of the brain towards unpleasant stimuli (Hara, 2003). Study has found that there is a prevalence of negative bias in patients diagnosed with major depression (Raes et al.,2006). Moreover, patients with social anxiety disorder were found to have a negative interpretation bias in mostly social situations (Huppert et al.,2003). Gratitude is a deep sense of appreciation for everything positive that makes the individual who he is. It is not limited to thanking another individual but also has an emotional and spiritual basis to it. Faith is what gives hope and hope is what makes humans want to live. Individuals who have the faith in religion have already been familiar with the concept of gratitude. Every religion has taken gratitude to be a primary aspect for increasing self-satisfaction and unbiased devotion. It was further only through contemporary positive psychology that the scientific basis of gratitude was established (Emmons et al.,2002). It has therefore expanded its base from the transcendental realm to empiricism. Gratitude provides individuals with the ability to look at the brighter side. It serves to act as a compensation for the negative bias that humans have embedded in them. It is the ability of the individuals to make positive interpretations in otherwise stressful scenarios. Research suggests that gratitude indeed leads to well-being in an individual (Philip et al., 2005).
Research suggest a positive and significant correlation between gratitude and resilience, moreover, this correlation is more prevalent among females than in males (Mary,2015). It has also been found that resilience is a significant predictor of gratitude (Dwiwardavi, 2014). Resilient individuals have gratitude as an important value. Not only this, as an independent variable gratitude was found to reduce the symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression (Petrocchi, 2016). It was predicted that gratitude leads to improved and better cardiovascular health in patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (Cousin et al.,2020). Also, as gratitude has its context in reducing depressive symptoms it becomes an important intervention for people suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer, which is a higher risk factor in the face of the pandemic.Gratitude is a virtue that is essential for the well-being of an individual. It enables the individual to experience a secure sense of attachment towards his or her environment.
It has been established that it leads to an individual towards his goals of self-actualization. Nonetheless, it helps them have a better physical health. It has been found that gratitude has significant benefit as a part of psychotherapeutic intervention. (Robert et al.,2013). However, it should find its way out of the realm of only therapeutic settings and be deeply engraved in the lives of people not only as a cure but also a measure for prevention.
OPTIMISM AND DEFENSIVE PESSIMISM
Optimism is a state of gratitude. It is the positivity in an individual to expect and look forward to favourable outcomes. It is an attitude that individuals adopt during any situation unlike traits that is the characteristic an individual possesses. Optimism enables an individual evolve as it gives an individual, the hope to explore new possibilities and open newer avenues. Due to the presence of negative bias especially in people with anxiety disorders, they have the tendency to expect unfavourable outcomes. It was found that higher levels of optimism was associated with subjective well-being in times of adversity. (Carner et al.,2010) Before delving further into optimism, an important concept to take into consideration is that of pessimism. Pessimism is a state of hopelessness. It is the attitude of the individual to expect unfavourable future outcomes. It was found that pessimism is significantly correlated with depression, anxiety and quality of life, in patients suffering from cancer (Zenger,2011). This in turn indicates lowering of resilience in individuals having the chronic condition of cancer. Moreover, research suggests that in mental toughness interventions, it is essential to use optimism as a tool rather than pessimism. (Nicholas et al.,2008)
It has been well established that optimism serves to be better than pessimism. One of the major areas of research under positive psychology was focused around optimism. (Seligman,2006). It has been found that optimism is significant in predicting mental health, physical well-being and enhances the quality of life. This is due to the fact that optimism leads to healthier and more adaptive lifestyles (Conversano et al.,2010). Further it was also found that optimism was inversely correlated with cardiovascular mortality (Giltay et al., 2006).It can be further be concluded that optimism is an important factor in helping individuals strengthen their resilience. Individuals can exercise their own techniques to harness optimism in case they are not under the guidance of a mental health professional. However, there is downside to optimism that cannot be undermined. Research suggests that higher levels of optimism also predicts consistency in gambling activities (Gibson et al., 2004). However, the solution to this downfall is the concept of defensive pessimism. It is a situation-based technique which is usually exercised in conditions that are risky. An individual exercises it by lowering his or her expectations defensively in situations perceived to be risky rather than always expecting favourable outcomes. (Norem & Cantor, 1986). It was found that defensive pessimism in certain situations reflects emotional mastery (Lim, 2009). Moreover, individuals who use defensive pessimism have the ability to adapt in a better way to their changing surroundings (Norem, 2008).
Therefore, optimism and defensive pessimism are important tools that individuals need to embed into their lives. It has its significance in times of crisis and are also necessary life skills.
An amalgamation of the branches of psychology and musicology lead to the emergence of the branch of music psychology. The past few decades have seen a growth in the significance of music and how it influences the mood, perceptions and essential cognitions of the human mind. Music is a part of the emotional realm of an individual’s mind. It is a form of expression that is pure. It is used as an escape while the other times it helps us to grieve. Different moods are widely associated with music. It has been found that there is a correlation between music preference and emotions as music is a predictor of emotional vulnerability (Baker & Bor, 2008). In the clinical settings music therapy is used as an alternative to treat depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and autism. It was found that the preference of heavy metal music was linked with suicidal tendencies in depressive patients (Lester & Whipple,1996). It was also found that listening to soft music leads to improvements in patients of suffering from major depression. It was associated with reduction in the intensity of depressive symptoms (Husu & Lal, 2004). Moreover, it was found that sedative music lead to a significant reduction in pain and anxiety issues in patients who underwent open-heart surgery (Voss et al.,2004).
Research suggests that music influences the emotions of people on the basis of how they perceive it (Schubert, 2007). It was also found that people with empathy as a trait have a preference for sad music as it arouses emotions in them (Kawakami & Katahira, 2015). Music preferences and the way it is perceived are linked to the emotions that people experience. While this is true, it cannot be denied that emotions play a significant role in the maintenance and regulation of physical health as suggested by a study conducted by Myne in 2001. Not only the music but the way it is perceived as well as the preference of genre are indicative of both physical and psychological health of an individual. As an example, people usually think that sad music is associated with causing emotions of sadness or despair. However, research suggests that sad music actually leads to inculcation of positive emotions in individuals irrespective of the state (Kawakami, Ai, et al.,2003).Therefore, it can be concluded that music perception is susceptible to individual differences in perception. However, one must be aware of the emotions that any form of music generates as it influences their mental as well as their physical health. Moreover, in the face of adversity music as an intervention can be used effectively to foster resilience in individuals. It also acts as an effective tool to equip individuals with creativity amidst the anxiety and limitations imposed on their mental health due to the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic demands an all-inclusive criterion for interventions. Most of the psychological researches conducted in this arena revolve exclusively around the hardships the pandemic has posed on the everyday lives of individuals. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address these adverse consequences through the most appropriate solutions at all levels. Psychology as a science is not absolute but the fact cannot be denied that the mind is an essential indicator of physical health and vice versa.
The current study has its limitation as these mental health interventions cannot be held solely as a cure or preventive measure for physical illnesses. However, the correlations established can be of help in order to facilitate the prevention or cure of physical health issues. In the times of the pandemic, a holistic approach to living a healthy life is crucial. The scope of the current study can further be expanded towards other interventions which may be a helpful tool in the times of crises.