Importance of Mental Health during COVID-19
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Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us physically and mentally, but the impact on our mental health has been greater than ever. The enforcement of lockdown and quarantine worldwide, has led us to self-isolation, social distancing, closure of schools, workplace sand entertainment areas. This has confined people and made them stay indoors to prevent transmission of the Coronavirus. These restrictive measures have had negative impact on the mental health of both children and adults in our society.

People around us have had disturbing experiences; such as loss of a close family member or friend, leading to psychological distress. The bereavement and anxiety of this dilemma presents a risk to mental health of an individual and has resulted in various disorders such as panic, anxiety, and depressive disorders in many of us.

Aiza Kamran, a qualified and experienced Clinical Psychologist explains the Kubler-Ross model that is the theory of grief after the loss of a loved one. Grief is universal and every one encounters it once in a lifetime. However, the pain of losing a near and dear one is unbearable and cannot be compared to any other loss in life. Not everyone experiences all five stages of grief. They are as follows:

Stages of Grief

  • Denial:  The first stage of grief is Denial. Aiza Kamran considers this the most difficult of all stages, as it is refusal to accept loss (death). Individuals refuse to accept reality and cannot cope with the change that has altered their life. They hope the situation may turnaround. In fact, they may blame others for it, not get rid of personal belongings or even visit the gravesite.  
  • Anger: It is natural to feel sense of anger when you lose a loved one. Some people get angry with God, while others show resentment towards the world. At this stage, a sense of anger may turn into bitterness or resentment. It is advisable to support and care for the bereaved and desolate until they can cope with the loss and begin to heal.  
  • Bargaining: The process of bargaining is an integral part of the whole process of grief. Bargaining and depression can both be experienced simultaneously during unprecedented times. When you go through bargaining, you are willing todo almost anything to alleviate or minimize the pain. For example, you start to reach out to God and ask Him if He could bring that person back saying, “I will change myself or become a better person”, if the deceased returns, or you may get caught up in “what if” and “if only” kind of statements. These statements or thoughts may help postpone the pain and grief.  
  • Depression: Depression can be extremely difficult and overwhelming. It is the most common feeling after the loss of a loved one. Individuals feel confused, stuck and the mind seems unclear. Such moments lead to isolation and one becomes less sociable. Although this is a common stage of grief, but it is misunderstood. Talking to a therapist during this time can help immensely.
  • Acceptance: The final stage is the acceptance stage where one no longer resists the reality. The grieved person understands that their loved one can never be replaced, but they strive to move on, grow and evolve into a new reality of life. As Aiza quotes, “The pandemic has taught us that life goes on.”

Everybody has a way of coping with grief and one may or may not go through each of these stages, or experience each of them in order. However, people around the bereaved person should understand that recovering from grief is a painfully slow process and they should treat the affected patiently.

Conclusion

Due to COVID-19 outbreak which comprised of self-isolation and social distancing, many of us faced a challenge that affected our mental health, wellbeing, emotional health, psychological and social wellness. Though the number of cases has fallen in Pakistan, we still need to follow the protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The restrictive measures resulting from lockdown have made us feel isolated and lonely and have increased the level of stress and anxiety. If you need to talk to a therapist from the safety and comfort of your home, you can book and online consultation through shifaam.com.

Nonetheless, it is necessary to manage stress in a healthy way by exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, sleeping properly, connecting with friends and family and taking out time for yourself. Last but not least, do get the COVID-19 vaccination so things can return to normalcy as fast as possible.

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