Covid-19 & Mental Health

Introduction

Zimbabwe like all the other nations globally has fallen victim to the pandemic Covid-19 which has resulted in a number of measures being taken to fight the deadly virus. The Covid-19 major measures being taken are;

  • enforced lockdown,
  • social distancing,
  • hand washing & sanitising
  • wearing of masks and protective gloves

In as much as these preventive measures are good in the fight against COVID-19 they have an impact on the mental well-being of an individual. “So much of what we do and who we are is rooted in a social context”, this is according to Haney, a Social Psychologist at the University of California, this also supporting the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual is able to realize their own potential, can cope with the normal stressors of life, work productively and make a contribution to their family and community’.

The preventive measures and stress

Many segregated prisoners reportedly suffer from mental health problems inclusive of paranoia, insomnia, anxiety, aggression, depression (Crime & Delinquency). Not necessarily are we comparing prison lifestyle to this lockdown situation we are in, but the circumstances of being forced to be in a certain place whether be it in quarantine or at home and having to face steep penalties in an attempt of trying to leave this place, may initiate all these symptoms similar to being locked up and segregated in prison. During this lockdown, we often forget to check ourselves and to know what state we are in as we focus more on the pandemic and all the different news from all angles, the financial strains, the loved ones who have been affected and to some the effects of staying alone where the only one close is through virtual interaction. (During this lockdown we focus our priorities more on the pandemic, rely on social media news coverage, the financial strains encountered and extremely worrying over our loved ones who were victimized by the pandemic that we forget to self-examine our states of mind).

In regard to Zimbabwe’s situation a number of factors have come into consideration:

  1. Due to the economic hardships, monthly wage employment had been unguaranteed in Zimbabwe leading the majority of the people diverting to the informal sector where they rely on daily earnings to survive and the current situation might have evoked the anxiety or fear of how they are going to survive during the lockdown.
  2. The people’s normal daily routine has been greatly affected and one may fail to adjust which is also adds on to the stressors encountered as a result of the social isolation.
  3. COVID-19 has resulted in uncertainty feelings among the populace. Fear of the uncertainty that one’s safety is never assured overwhelms everyone.
  4. High chances of compulsive disorders which may result from the fear of being infected with the disease might be noticed. Since people are encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands, one may end up overdoing it in fear of being infected resulting in an obsessive compulsive disorder.
  5. Recently the number of people allowed to come during hospital visits has been reduced to one person per day and this also takes a toll on the patients psychologically.
  6. There is plenty of evidence to support that quarantine has a psychological impact on a person which can result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.

What one can do to maintain mental health?

Positivism is what we are mainly focusing on. This is time to self-reflect and self-examine your state of mind. What is it you’re really focusing on?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, the following are some of the ways one might adopt in order to survive mentally during the lockdown situation in the midst of this pandemic:

  • Talk about your feelings to either family or to health practitioners online.
  • Keep active (GET OUT OF BED – exercise, cook, bake, read, write, etc)
  • Eat well -Try to eat warm food and make the best meal with what you have and also eat as family as it helps in creating strong family bonds.
  • Keep in touch – Take this time to catch up with family around you or even far you may still do that virtually. Yes, we are in isolation, but don’t isolate yourself from your loved ones as well.
  • Care for others- Everyone is not having it easy, so care a little more than usual, it could go an extra mile to help install a positive mind-set we are trying to spread. Save a soul.
  • Break up the monotony – Before this lockdown, we had the same usual routine. For a change you may do things differently in terms of how your day is scheduled daily.

The focus is on you and the moment your mindset is right and positive, this will also relay to pandemics in the past, this too shall pass. There is life after this and plans can be made, but your mental health is a priority.

Source: Tinotenda C. R. Tichareva & Morgan Tatsvareyi