The World Health Organization (WHO) has been recording an increasing number of people experiencing depression and anxiety in several countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the very limited access to mental health services and facilities due to lockdowns, it is important to know how to maintain a clear mind while isolated at home.
Coronavirus-related psychological distress mainly affects frontline workers, especially those in the medical field. Health workers face heavy workloads during outbreaks and are at high risk of catching the virus.
Those who recently experienced job loss, financial problems and other health problems as an impact of COVID-19 restrictions may also suffer from depression and anxiety.
“The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “Social isolation, fear of contagion and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment.”
Children and adolescents are also at risk. WHO said as most of the younger population are required to stay at home, they are more likely to be witness or suffer from violence and abuse.
However, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide and countries are taking time to reopen, getting access to mental health or psychosocial support remains difficult. Experts said people should learn to prevent mental illness while at home.
University of New South Wales associate professors Simon Rosenbaum and Jill Newby provided a list of simple ways that could help people improve mental health and cope in tough times, like the spread of COVID-19 and ongoing lockdowns. The activities promise to help avoid or at least manage stress, depression or anxiety are the following:
- Helping other people
- Finding a regular exercise or physical activity you enjoy
- Improving your sleep quality
- Following healthy diet or eating healthy foods
- Connecting with people and building positive relationships
- Learning strategies to manage stress
- Setting realistic expectations
- Learning methods to relax, such as meditation
- Counteracting negative or overcritical thinking
- Doing activities you enjoy or give you a sense of accomplishment
However, Rosenbaum and Newby noted it is important to consider meeting a health professional when poor mental health is already interfering with your daily life, work, study or relationship.
“Regardless of whether you are experiencing a mental illness, everyone has the right to optimal mental health,” they said in an article posted on the Conversation. “The suggestions above can help everyone improve their mental health and well-being, and help is available if you’re not sure how to get started.”