- School children suffer from boredom, but also anxiety: Prof David Leiser
- Admit you don't know everything. Much is uncertain: Prof David Leiser
- Government should quickly respond to COVID-19, transparently: Prof David
New Delhi: Governments around the world have been urging the people to self-isolate themselves in their homes as the deadly COVID-19 continues to spread its tentacles, killing millions and bringing our daily lives to a standstill. But how long will a person restrict himself to the four walls of a room? Researchers say that a long period of isolation and solitary confinement may make humans feel depressed and powerless. Powerlessness escalates depression and hopelessness. People feel powerless when they do not have control over everyday aspects and decisions they make.
Prof David Leiser from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev says that there are marked differences between how the people of different age groups react to the time of crisis in different ways.
This attempt to shield oneself to mitigate the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is making young children feel the need to adjust to the change in their routine, which is so significant to them. They also need to cope with isolation from their peer group, and parents, who may become edgy, Prof Leiser said in an e-mail interview to ANI.
“School children suffer from boredom, but also anxiety. Adults have to balance family life and responsibilities, but also balance their professional lives and cope with financial worries. Older people dread the infection and worry about the continuation of services on which they depend,” he explained.
Because of the way isolation and confinement are set up, they make people feel more depressed and powerless, he added.
An online study – COVID-19 and the consequences of isolating the elderly – published in the journal ‘The Lancet’ further substantiates the fact that social isolation among older adults is a “serious public health concern” because of their heightened risk of cardiovascular, autoimmune, neurocognitive and mental health problems. People, especially the elderly, who remain at home and maintain social disconnection, are at a greater risk of depression and anxiety.
A useful distinction is between responses directed towards others (aggressivity, blame, and sometimes acting out) or towards oneself (depression). People with less mental resources may descend into psychotic episodes, Prof Leiser stressed.
Reports about some people in quarantine arguing and misbehaving with the medical staff as well as creating ruckus in hospitals have also surfaced in recent days. In another incident, one man hanged himself in Uttar Pradesh as he feared he might catch the illness.
To safeguard the public’s ability to participate in and access information about COVID-19 and related health crisis, Prof Leiser said that government officials at all levels should move quickly to respond to COVID-19 and protect people’s health.
In doing so, transparency and public access is a necessary and important way to give those affected clarity into government decision-making during this crisis. It’s neither normal nor healthy for a democracy to hide or classify public health-related decisions or deliberations, the professor outlined.
One can say that it was a crime on China’s part that it silenced Li Wenliang, the Wuhan doctor and whistle blower of the new SARS-like virus. A loyalist of China’s Communist Party, Li raised the alarm about the coronavirus at the end of December but was reprimanded by police in Wuhan, weeks before the full scale of the crisis was known. He died on February 7 after contracting the virus from patients at Wuhan Central Hospital.
Stressing communal values, empathy, making highly visible gestures to show everyone that the country cares, Prof Leiser said.
“The approach should be gentle if firm. No lies and no pink spectacles. People desperately need to be able to trust whoever is in charge,” he added.
Stress, this is limited in time; we will come out of this situation. It won’t be so long. Admit you don’t know everything. Much is uncertain. But there is hope for prevention, treatment, testing, and return to work will be possible, the professor further said.