PANDEMICS can really be stressful. When people face a new disease which cure still has to be discovered, fear and anxiety occur.
Interventions and mandatory policies like social distancing increase uncertainty and even fake news leads to discomforts and panic.
Its psychosomatic consequences do not only affect the community today but even in the future. Hence, we must not take for granted the mental health needs related to the pandemic or we suffer its long-term consequences.
Let me then share to you United Nation (UN) Secretary-General António Gutteres's (2020) three priorities on mental health during this Covid-19 pandemic.
First, he shared that there is a need for a whole of society approach in the promotion, protection, and care for mental health.
Let us remember that those who were inflicted with Covid-19 are not only the one who suffers from its pain but as well as their family members. So, many suffer from this difficult time simultaneously. Children, teenagers, elderlies, single, married, employed, or unemployed are all affected by this illness, and it will not only hit them physically but mentally which elevate the rate of stress or anxiety.
Second, the need to make sure that there is an extensive and available emergency mental health and psychosocial support.
In this pandemic crisis, it is expected that there are people under massive stress or experiencing anxiety attacks but not seeking professional help due to fear of risk of acquiring Covid-19. Or there are no available mental health centers that are readily accepting without fear to cater to clients with anxiety issues or stress due to Covid-19. And when there are no agencies for psychosocial assistance, especially for those who would be needing professional help, untreated anxiety, or stress can lead to more severe and even life-threatening conditions. Hence, I agree that policies should be considering the rights and dignity of those affected by mental health conditions with the right to have mental health need emergency assistance. An assigned 24/7 mental health providers to give psychosocial support for those who are in need should be available and can be funded by the government and other non-government agencies. While, in this time of Covid-19, hotlines may be most applicable, both to protect the health provider and the possible clients or face-to-face interaction may be possible if social distancing rule can be applied.
Thirdly, the need to have recovery support from Covid-19 by creating mental health services for the future. Support will still be needed even when the pandemic ends. Recovery support should be extended in the community, health teachings can be done for the people to gain knowledge about Covid-19 prevention and even know what its treatment is.
Also, information should be available online where people can get to know more about the disease. I also agree and find it essential that mental health should always be one of the priorities in universal health coverage.
The health care agencies can indeed help us achieve mental health. But what people mostly never understand is that the acknowledgment of having suffered such discomforts and pains is the greatest step forward in mental health.
I know this is not easy, it will never be... Just remember that the moment we accept that we are not as always perfectly well, it is the time that we will understand that we can be still ill at times.
So, I hope that our community will continue to step forward, yes, one at a time until we reach mental health.