Lesser mobility affects mental health and governments should take it seriously

Commentary Westminster

And it suddenly came to a kick in the face. Once you were enjoying your cup of coffee at your favourite coffee shop, pursuing the things you were passionate about, chatting with your friends over drafts of beer, singing the nights out while everyone slumbered their exhaustion away—and then everything changed. Just like that, an unseen opponent, only then joked about by the youngsters, came spreading globally, snatching the life you once lived.

The new normal became panic-buying, fearing of stepping foot outside, maintaining a few meters away from random people—sometimes even your own family to ensure that the virus gets contained.

So to combat the rapid and further spreading of the pandemic that originated in Wuhan City in the province of Hubei in China late last year, governments around the world imposed months-long of lockdown and scrambled to come to the rescue of their citizens who were not just seized of the right to work for their financial needs but also deprived to live peacefully. Others were bracing for what may come. This meant that many, if not all of us, are required to stay at home and do less in terms of social interactions, and this virus scenario has undeniably taken its toll on everyone else’s mental health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday has warned that the global pandemic “may never go away” and that a global mental health crisis was looming, particularly affecting those who are at risk of depression, self-harm, anxiety, and suicide.

A report by WHO director Devora Kestel to the United Nations said that the “isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil—they all cause or could cause psychological distress.”

“The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis and are a priority to be addressed urgently,” she said.

Even researchers from the University of Glasgow found that increased isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress, and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and well-being.

It is undoubtedly exhausting, saddening, and depressing—name all the words that could fit the scenario—to imagine that everything just changed in the blink of an eye. The youngsters could be worrying about their social lives, but much more than that, people are carrying the heavier burden of providing the daily needs of the family, and then there were those who were sent on the frontlines to help bring an end to this challenge. For many, it’s the uncertainty that was the hardest thing to handle.

So if you happen to decide to step back from social media amid the spiking cases of the coronavirus, or even getting mentally-fatigued despite you closeting yourself in your room, you are not alone. Crying is okay, worrying is okay, seeing a blurry future is okay but as the old saying goes: there is always a light waiting at the end of the tunnel. Many of us, after all, need to take a breather and come up for air.

And so, in these times of distress, it is worth noting that a person’s mental health should not be set aside. Mental health is a legitimate concern that requires professional intervention. While it is true that we are facing a health crisis globally, world leaders must also take into consideration the need for funding mental health awareness programs through several campaigns, as well as newspaper television, and radio advertisements, and setting up telehealth, or remote delivery of mental health services through telecommunications.

In the United Kingdom, approximately one out of four people suffer from mental illness yearly. In England alone, one in six people experience common mental health problem such as depression and anxiety.

The growing mental illness cases prompted the government to invest previously announced an additional £1 billion for mental health care by 2021, and some one million people were expected to receive mental support. The bigger question, however, is its sufficiency, taking into consideration the increasing mental pressure amid the virus outbreak.

As few tips to cope up, keep in mind these things you can do to manage your anxiety and fears while we walk hand-in-hand to get ourselves out of this tunnel:

Check on your friends and families and make sure to maintain a healthy relationship may it be by flesh or through phone or video call. Always be truthful about your feeling as a way to let out the negativity that’s been eating you.

In addition, ensure a healthy diet and proper exercise daily, and take a few minutes break from your smartphones and gadgets, and do light physical movements such as stretching and walking to help ease your muscles and improve blood circulation. Regular physical activity benefits both the body and mind as it helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions that can increase the risk of contracting coronavirus.

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