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Mental Health

COVID-19 Stories: How The Pandemic Impacted The Mental Health?

In order to raise awareness on mental health issues globally, World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of mobilising efforts in support of mental health

COVID-19 Stories: How The Pandemic Impacted The Mental Health?
  • World Mental Health Day is an annual reminder of mental health issues
  • Setting boundaries a big part of mental health: Designer Masaba Gupta
  • There is no health without mental health: Dr Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist

New Delhi: World Health Organisation estimates that about 7.5 per cent Indians suffer from some mental disorder. It also states that 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders. WHO also highlights that the mental health workforce in India is not upto the mark and there is a huge shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in the country as compared to the number of people suffering from mental health issues. According to the estimates in India, (per 100,000 population) there are psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07), while the desirable number is anything above 3 psychiatrists and psychologists per 100,000 population.

Also Read: Understanding The Burden Of Mental Disorders In India

In order to raise awareness on mental health issues globally, World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

Mental Wellbeing is also one of the key focus areas of NDTV-Dettol’s Banega Swasth India campaign in season 8. As a part of the campaign, recently the 12-hour of Swasth Bharat, Sampann Bharat telethon was organised. The telethon saw many eminent personalities coming together to put the focus on Mental Wellbeing in one of the sessions of the telethon and share their stories on how they cope up with the stress and anxiety during COVID-19 times.

Fashion Designer and Actor Masaba Gupta said,

Isolation is a very charming thing for the privileged but not a very happy experience for those who are not privileged. For me, the last two years have been liberating. As a small business owner, I had to think of my employees as well. We were working throughout the pandemic. I internalized and discovered so many things about myself as an entrepreneur and daughter. I had the privilege to feel liberated. I think we have become kinder to each other and become aware of mental health issues which is and was looked as a taboo subject. Today people will come and talk about mental health issues which were earlier pushed under the carpet. Today, girls and women are talking about their mental health issues and have set boundaries. Setting boundaries is a big part of mental health.

On the other hand, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected the mental health of doctors, frontline workers, Dr Prashant Saxena, Director & Head, Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine, Max Smart Hospital said,

I believe, being a doctor is one of the most physically, emotionally and mentally demanding profession. COVID-19 tested our limits even further. We were not fully prepared for the second wave. There was stress and anxiety at all times. We were concerned about our family members, so we were in quarantine regularly, living in different houses. In a lot of societies, doctors were discriminated. We lost so many doctors as well in the pandemic. There was burnout, insomnia, exhaustion. There was a time, I was seeing over 100 patients a day. There was no time to sleep, but eventually we came out of it. A lot of lives were lost but in the end, we did really well.

Also Read: Each COVID-19 Surge Poses A Risk For Healthcare Workers: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Sharing her experience, Captain Usha Banerjee, Director of Nursing, Apollo Hospitals said,

COVID was a very very trying time for all of us, especially for the frontline healthcare workers. The doctors or healthcare staff are right there at the side of the bed of the sick and ailing person. Many a times patients are left by their families. For young doctors and nurses – it was really really traumatic to see someone die.

Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan also shared one of the anecdote from his hospital visit when he was suffering with COVID-19 last year. Giving the tag of ‘angels inside the ICUs and Hospitals’ to nurses, he added,

One thing, I noticed during my stay in the hospital was that on many occasions, patients would desperately ask nurses, ‘give me something and save my life’. Nurses were handicapped. There were times when they were just giving them an ordinary aspirin tablet to make them feel comfortable. They knew patient wouldn’t survive. That kind of trauma was breaking nurses really. They were really like angels.

Dr Jitender Singh Shunty, Padma Shri Awardee and Founder & President of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal, an NGO that helped cremated over 4,000 bodies since the start of the #COVID19 pandemic also joined the telethon. Sharing his experience from on ground, he said,

In the first wave, my entire family tested positive but we kept on working. That time, we cremated around 1368 bodies. I even lost a driver who was with me for 25 years to COVID. When my entire family tested positive, I slept in the car for 22 days. During the second wave of COVID, things got even more difficult. We all have seen people queue up for milk at the dairies, but I saw 40 dead bodies in line waiting for cremation. There were times when people would leave their family members unattended at the cremation grounds and tell us to perform their last rights. When I think of those times, i still get very emotional, I still get those scenes. It was a very scary and difficult time. When i think of those moments, i get very disturbed, even today. It has left a permanent mark in my mind, which i don’t think, i will overcome, ever.

Also Read: How To Ensure Mental Wellbeing Of Children During The COVID-19 Crisis

Talking about the need to focus on mental health issues in India, Dr Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist, Director, Mind Temple Institute said,

I am happy we are finally discussing psychiatric disorders. We need to give emotional health as much importance as we are giving to physical health. There is no health without mental health. We need governments to have programmes, going house to house and checking what’s happening with people. Senior citizens, healthcare workers have been affected. They might not know they have been affected because on the surface they might seem normal. But you need to scratch. We need to come up with strong mental health ambassadors to tell people that yes, if you have a problem, go and meet mental health professionals. Take medicine if you need. Don’t shy away from taking medicines.

Abhinav Bindra, India’s first individual Olympic gold medalist,  Founder, Abhinav Bindra Foundation, Khel Ratna Awardee said that it is very important for stars or well-known athletes to talk about Mental Health. He said,

There has been a long standing misconception that athletes are immune to any kind of mental health issue. On the contrary, I believe, they are more prone to mental health issues. There are a lot of red flags in an athlete’s life that can lead to mental health issues. Your profession comes closest, whenever movies are released, you are judged. We athletes are judged every week which puts a lot of pressure. In a country like India where the next decade or so will be the decade of sport, which means we will have many young athletes take up sport which will mean a lot of them failing because that’s the very nature of support. All athletes who were speaking on mental health issues have helped. There is a greater appreciation of mental health issues. I think it is the right time to deal with it but it is a lot of work.

Watch The Full Discussion

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 

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