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Let’s Get Through Covid-19 Depression!

Sachini D. Perera

It is no secret that millions of people are suffering mental issues as they have been held captive by the Covid-19 pandemic for several months this year. As we have seen, just about everyone has some form of generalized anxiety disorder that occurs due to the sudden and long-term residential lockups imposed across the world. Especially, youth and senior citizens have to live with depression, anxiety, a sense of hopelessness and isolation. While frustrated adults reluctantly or fearfully try to stay at home with their children and siblings, young people are more addicted to being left with their digital devices and spend many hours of the day in this manner, a Californian study stressed, this November. It shows how Covid has damaged people’s mental health by forcing people to stay at home.

Due to this condition, people might tend to talk with themselves.

‘I feel like my throat is sore, my head aches, and I find it hard to breathe’ 

‘I am anxious most of the time’

‘I am afraid to go outside’

‘Will this never end?’

And the self-talk goes on in this manner. 

In such a situation, people have no idea of how to manage their own feelings and thoughts in order to be able to get on with their lives. People often turn to their friends and family for emotional support until the self-quarantining time ends. Human nature is sustained by being connected to each other and people can’t often survive alone. Therefore self-distancing or social distancing has a rough effect on many. For instance, the tragic death reported from Homagama on November 1st when a 25-year old differently-abled person took his own life after his mother was taken to hospital after showing Covid symptoms. 

Apart from these circumstances, some communities who used to stay mostly outdoors have had to adapt to limited-space and a new lifestyle by working from home, temporary unemployment, distance-learning or home-schooling for children, etc. In order to manage the fear of contracting the virus, people worry about working outdoors and reduce physical employing activities, except for those working online. Even changing revenue patterns and food consuming patterns have made things very stressful. Monthly incomes have been cut in half for some working communities and these employees feel that the forthcoming months will be difficult when it comes to feeding and medicating their loved ones. Eating habits have changed due to the low purchasing of food and the shortage of food items because of the pandemic. Moreover, researchers suggest that people who are from low-income communities with poor education and poor health practices are more likely to suffer from both mental health problems and Covid-19 as well.

As the Guardian newspaper reports, nearly one out of five people who have contracted the Covid-19 virus have also been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. It further explains that the reason behind such psychological downfalls is that they are fearfully conscious of the fact that they have been identified as Covid positive patients. They fear being isolated and dying. According to the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, 65% of Covid patients who have pre-existing mental health diagnoses such as dementia are more likely to contract with Covid-19 virus than others.

To overcome this unbearable moment of truth, some countries have already commenced charge-free, 24×7, confidential and supportive online counselling services as follows; 

  •  Crisis Text Line in UK & Ireland  
  •  TrevorSpace (targeted for 13 – 24 aged adolescents) 
  •  Trans Lifeline (targeted for transgenders) in USA & Canada   
  •  National Sexual Assault Hotline in the USA
  •  National Suicide Preventional Lifeline in the USA
  •  ‘What Matters in Time of Stress’ guide and audio exercise conducted by the WHO

If you feel that you or your loved ones are currently experiencing severe mood swings or have drastic changes in behaviour, please feel free to contact a psychologist or psychiatrist for help.  They are well prepared to assist any individual during these tough moments. In Sri Lanka, there are also some dedicated mental health services and hotlines for citizens to push through these hard times.  Following are the organizations offering free counselling services and their hotlines:  

CCC Foundation1333
Women’s Helpline1938
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Colombo1926
Professional Psychological Counselling Centre – Batticaloa0652226469
FPA Suwaseva Centre – Ampara   0634926664
National Council for Mental health – Sahanaya (Colombo)0112685960
Sri Lanka Sumithrayo Head Office (Suicide & All Type of Counselling Services)0112686666
Family Rehabilitation Centre (Family Counselling & Psycho-Social Support) – Colombo0112580166
Family Planning Association (Colombo)011280915/ 0112556611
Alokaya Youth Counselling Centre (Individual Counselling, Group Counselling, Awareness programs for the Public, Voluntary Counselling)0112584157
Sith Pahan Piyasa (Panadura)0382232307
Institute of Mental Health (IMH) – (Counselling services for children, youth, adults, couples, families and groups)0112506004/ 0714749625
Sahana Counselling Centre (Psychological, Family, Educational and Career Counselling) – Nuwara Eliya0714465582
Meta Mind International (Kandana)0112231861
Maruchi Coaching, Counselling and Training Centre (Moratuwa)0704550600
Colombo Healing Home & Institute (Family, Child & Relationship issues, Stress, Anxiety, Insomnia, Sexual Dysfunction, Depression, etc.) 0777851571
Life & Mind Wellness Centre (Malabe)0753633633
Heartwork (Colombo 10)0768830631
Sri Lanka Maha Bodhi Counselling Centre (Drug Counselling) – Maradana1984/ 0112677626
Psychology Life Centre (Kohuwala)0714890924

Specialists in mental health stress that no one should feel ashamed of needing to talk with a counsellor if they feel alone, abandoned or depressed. While you can’t blame others for the sudden lockdowns, increasing death count, food shortage, depressive thoughts and so on, neither should you direct the blame at yourself. The most important thing is to brace yourself and stay put with a strong and positive mindset to counteract these difficult days.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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