Socio-Psychological Impact of Covid-19
Coronavirus, which is said to originate in the city of Wuhan, China, around December 2019, has taken its toll all over the world. Everyone thought the outbreak will subside, but it seems to have no end and is here to stay for a remarkable amount of time. The novel Coronavirus which manifests itself in the form of dry cough, throat ache, breathlessness and pneumonia (if symptoms persist) has proved to be quite a menace. World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID19 as a pandemic and a public health emergency. A significant amount of population is being extra careful and taking appropriate steps like washing their hands frequently, going out with their masks on, maintaining proper hygiene, etc. What coronavirus is doing to our body and our economy is something constantly discussed about. But what does it do to our soul? Quoting the WHO definition of health “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merelythe absence of disease and infirmity’’ i.e. health is beyond the physical realm. A lot of countries are finding solutions to contain the spread through the complete lockdown. It seems that lockdown has been the world’s biggest psychological experiment ever conducted.
Human beings have a tendency to plan their future and live on their own terms. They tend to control a lot in their life but unfortunately, this pandemic isn’t one of those things. The world is struggling with uncertainty. Fear and anxiety develop when things are uncertain, unknown, and unclear to us. People are obviously stressed. A little stress can be helpful, it can serve as a motivator that keeps you self-isolated and take appropriate measures. But constant and high levels of stress can impact mental and physical health. Everyone is struggling at their own level. It isn’t going well with students and employees who are stuck in different countries or different states away from their families. Students who were to be placed or graduated this year are clueless and worried about their future. For professionals, there was a demarcation between personal and professional life; the lines are blurred now as most of them are working from home; some of the employees and workers are losing on their jobs or are facing salary cuts. For a lot of people, sitting at home is driving them crazy. This is not a great time for people who were already suffering from pre-existing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, for substance abusers and other vulnerable groups. To avoid this, people should communicate with their loved ones. Getting proper sleep, exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, setting a proper routine can be beneficial. Professionals and helplines are also available in case one wants to reach out. Some people may face increased depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) post lockdown. Since COVID19 is known to have an affinity for the geriatric age group and people with underlying systemic disorders like diabetes, asthma, pneumonia, etc., there is a growing fear among such groups, which if not checked, may take a toll on their mental health.
In India, there has been a shocking rise in domestic violence against women which is a growing concern. For addressing the same, the Indian government has released some helpline numbers which are operational for 24 hours.
- Shakti Shalini, New Delhi - 011-24373737
- Sakshi violence intervention centre- (0124-2562336)
- All India Women's conference- 011-23389680
One of the important reasons behind increased fear and anxiety is the over-watching of distressing source of information. There are a lot of rumors and misinformation doing rounds; social media having a huge contribution to it. Facts minimize fear. Try relying on some reliable online platforms like WHO, Ministry of health and family welfare etc. As a responsible citizen, one should break the chain of baseless rumors capable of inciting fear among citizens. It is best to stay informed, not overloaded. Limit the influx of information related to crisis because incessantly talking about the menace doesn’t drag you out of it, in fact, it makes things worse. This can be tackled by positive and constructive journalism. There have been cases where people who were found to be corona-virus positive were side-lined and shunned from the society and their neighbors were treating them as untouchables. In some societies, there is a stigma associated with health conditions especially when they are communicable like COVID-19. Experiences of rejection, exclusion, and discrimination can be very harmful mentally. Moreover, COVID-19 should not be attributed to geography, ethnicity and a particular race. It is a global issue. Refrain from attaching it with a particular group. Also, avoid using terms like “victims’’ or “suspected cases’’. We need to be socially united and physically distant.
However, there are a lot of positive changes happening around as well. Household chores are not limited to women now… people are cleaning and cooking on their own or giving a hand in the same which will make them realize that being a homemaker is nothing short of a full-time job (which is a prevailing misconception in a country like India).People have come to realize the importance of savings because that is what a CEO and a Janitor is relying upon currently. In addition, there is a growing concern about health more than ever. People have developed a common sense of shared responsibility and a feeling of togetherness. And not to forget the beautiful impact on the environment, but for how long? We are spending time with our families more than ever. We are now spending time with our elders who are always deprived of time and attention. People are realizing that life is much more than a rat-race and achieving targets. In a nutshell, tackling Covid-19 has varied individual approaches. Lockdown isn’t the same for everyone. This experience (like other social issues) also varies according to economic class, age and mental state of individuals. For some, it might be relaxation time, while for some it might be getting on their nerves. Having said that, acceptance in citizens has increased to a great extent. Many of us have made peace with what is going on and tackling quarantine in our own ways. Hope we all come out of it stronger and peaceful than ever.
After all, life is what happens while we are busy planning other things.