THE Covid pandemic has caused a profound impact on human beings; affecting not only their physical health, but also psychiatric and emotional health. There is an increase in mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs), especially among youngsters who have been confined to their homes due to the closure of educational institutions and outlets for recreational activities.

Since its beginning in 2019, the coronavirus has transformed itself dramatically into several powerful variants, imposing lockdowns and creating an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and despair.

Countries around the world are trying their best to contain the disease, but are not too focussed on controlling its impact on people’s psychological state. The situation in Pakistan is even worse where mental health has never been a priority and people suffer silently with their illnesses. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, they often remain unidentified, undiagnosed and untreated.

Considering the little importance governments in Pakistan have ever given to mental health, it will be unwise to expect that it will take steps in this regard. Hence, people should take charge of their own lives and those close to them, and improve their mental health by adopting a healthy lifestyle and a good routine.

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that affects the way a person feels and acts. If a person feels sad, irritable, worthless, guilty, tired, lacks motivation, loses sleep, weight and interest in food, chances are s/he might be going through depression.

A survey conducted by the University College London revealed that 67 per cent of the participants were suffering from mental illness, and most of them did not have a history of mental conditions.

It is safe to say that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and economic downturn have negatively affected many people’s mental health. But people can improve their wellbeing by exercising regularly, eating healthy food, practising relaxation techniques and spending time in healthy activities.

As many people find it hard to seek professional help, these tips can help them stay healthy and manage their conditions effectively. Communication is the key when it comes to mental health. Parents should create a healthy environment at home and have open discussion with their children on a range of things. This will help the parents identify any change in behaviour and seek professional help in time.

Amna Shaban

Lahore

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2021

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