Covid-19,the virus first originated from Wuhan, China in December 2019 is wreaking havoc among the globe till this day. Almost 200 million people have contracted this virus so far with over 4.2 million deaths. The virus has caused governments around the world to take unprecedented measures to spread the curb of covid-19 by putting ban on travels, by announcing mask wearing as a mandatory obligation, by social distancing and by putting people under quarantines. The efforts to develop vaccines for covid-19,started as soon as the pandemic began. Within an year, countries like the US, China, Russia and UK were able to develop vaccines against the virus. Mass vaccination is being done around the globe since the beginning of 2021 to reduce the spread of the virus. With over a million cases and 23k plus deaths, situation in Pakistan isn’t much different, either. Millions of people have lost their jobs ever since the pandemic began, people have lost their loved ones, faced trauma which comes with being isolated for longer periods. Circumstances caused by the pandemic have brought a great amount of stress, anxiety and depression among people from all backgrounds. The role played by mental health professionals during this crisis is critical, to say the least. The pandemic has caused uncertainty and fear among people. The fear of contracting the virus, the fear of hunger, the uncertainty at work place. Many of the companies are unable to pay their employees, which is adding a great amount of stress to the people’s brains.
People are having to obey quarantine rules and are staying in isolation for longer periods, which is affecting the mental health of many of them. The pandemic is also causing social disruption among people by growing disease related stigma and xenophobia against some cultural, racial and religious groups worldwide.
Mental health professionals should create awareness among people of all ages, not to take stress and not to feel lonely during these tough times. They can try to convince people that this pandemic is not going to last for forever and there will be an end to it, sooner than later. Mental health professionals can urge people to get vaccinated as it is the only way to slow down the spread of virus and to bring things back towards normal, which can decrease the stress level of public.
Psychologists and Psychiatrists can spread awareness about mental health disorders during covid-19 by appearing on news outlets, through print media and by using social media platforms. There are millions of people going through some form of mental health problem and to help them get through it, we need more professionals dealing with mental health issues. Covid-19 has increased the demand for mental health professionals as there’s a greater need for people to relax their nerves and to feel normal during this uncertainty.
It is the role of mental health professionals to release stress, anxiety, to bring people out of fear and depression during this time of pandemic. Also, it is the responsibility of the mental health professionals to reduce the number of suicides committed by people due to stress and depression caused the pandemic and they can do so by encouraging people to stay positive and by motivating them through various means.
In Pakistan, there’s need to raise a much greater awareness regarding mental health during this pandemic due to the fact that most people are even unaware of the term “mental health”. There’s a greater need to establish more mental health institutes across the country to tackle the mental health crisis which was already an afterthought and now it has gotten worst due to pandemic. Hence, it is the responsibility of the mental health professionals to use all of their available resources to teach people about how to cope up with stress and how to be more resilient. They can tell people to take breaks from watching, reading and listening to the news stories. Mental health professionals can encourage people to take care of themselves and to remain in touch with friends and family via online platforms during this crisis. They can also encourage people to read books, to go fishing and do other similar activities which can divert their minds from the ongoing crisis.
It is the need of time for us all to be united emotionally, mentally and spiritually to be able to defeat this virus and the role which mental health professionals are going to play in it will be remembered for ages to come.