A survey by YoungMinds, sampled 1850 parents, out of which 750 had kids with mental health issues, who would earlier get the necessary help. 25% of these parents said that this was no longer the case. Owing to the lockdown, their children were unable to access the care that they required, thus reflecting the emerging concerns of youth all over the world, who are struggling with mental health problems. The Guardian highlighted the shocking statistic of one in four youth with mental issues not being able to get help during the lockdown. This draws attention to the damage that could materialize as a result of the Pandemic.
How is India coping with mental health during lockdown?
While the NHS outlines the situation to be pretty grim, as far as youth overseas are concerned, India is not faring better. Mental health has always been a taboo, and thus youth in India, far from the eyes of family, often resort to school or college counselors, to aid them in this struggle. With the lockdown having put an end to these sessions, it is only expected that their emotional well being is greatly affected. While there are always alternatives to go digital and seek help over the phone, very few actually use these. It is safe to say that the Coronavirus has blocked access to medical care and has left thousands in the lurch for want of a way out. The RFI highlighted that India has seen a growing spike in the number of mental illness cases and those that showed suicidal tendencies, thus answering the question. India isn’t coping too well with mental health during the lockdown. The Indian Psychiatry Society has reported a 20% rise in the mental health cases as people fear losing their jobs post the lockdown.
The pandemic : A psychological experiment
The Pandemic has been termed as the world’s biggest psychological experiment of all time. Benaisha Kharas Dongre, a mental health expert says that each one has their own ways of seeing the situation. “Some feel frustrated while others are finding themselves in such times. In any situation our attitude makes us feel the way we do. I know of people who are taking this time to rejuvenate themselves, while others are only waiting for the lockdown to be lifted. It's how you accept it.”
What then is the solution?
Though the problem may seem unsolvable, it may come as a ray of light, that there in fact are ways to find your way through and manage your mental health during the lockdown. A get-away has become spending hours on the cell phone, scrolling through your favorite apps, or binge watching series. However, researchers warn that these could be detrimental as they lower psychological well being. Meditation could be a great way of dealing with the blues and while it might seem a far fetched option for millenials, don’t disregard its effects. But above all, one needs to take the first step towards this healing. “Acceptance is the first starting point in any situation. Try to see how you can make the best of it . Maybe it's actually some time off from the things that don't matter to the things that do.” says the mental health expert.
“Panicking wouldn't really help in any situation - lockdown or not. One should maintain a positive attitude, while making an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Learn what triggers your anxiety, is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. You could even talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.” During times like these, when it's difficult to meet a therapist, online platforms like BetterHelp provide people struggling with stress and anxiety a way to speak to licensed therapists from the convenience of their own homes.
Economic damage v/s Mental damage
While countries are coming up with solutions and ways to salvage the economic damage that the Pandemic has caused, will one actually be able to restore emotional damage? Benaisha says the two are interdependent. “If the economy is good then most people's emotional stability is good as today economics runs our emotions. When the market goes up and down it creates a number of emotions for people. The rich and the not so rich both feel the pinch or the glee when it comes to economics. Our mental health is subjective to a lot of other factors around us. Very few people can be in Zen mode to rationalize or to be patient or to take things in their stride.”
How is the anxiety of being unemployed adding to this
In times of crisis, people often resort to Google to have the answers! As reported by the Live Mint, a recent Google Trends data showed that the searches for ‘stress’ by Indians, exceeded that of other countries, as did the searches for ‘therapy’. This is alarming, as these point to the fact that Indians are among the top affected in this crisis and are reaching out for mental help. The job related searches are also significantly higher as the unemployment rate has soared. With a crisis at hand, and anxiety about the future, the millennial is at a loss and needs help!
If you are struggling to cope with mental health issues, help is always available. The Government has a toll free helpline number 08046110007, where you can reach out for assistance. You are not alone in this battle and there are thousands just like you. The fight is going to be long, but we’re in this together. You are not going crazy!