Rise In India’s Mental Health Crisis With Ascending Coronavirus Cases
What resulted in the spike in India’s mental health crisis? India has been in the news recently for the alarming rise in cases of infection caused by the Nipah virus, also known as the Nipah or NiV virus. The virus is transmitted to humans from animals, specifically fruit bats, and causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain which can be deadly if not treated quickly enough. What started out as an isolated outbreak in the western state of Kerala has grown into a crisis of national proportions, with confirmed cases reaching 18 in number (as of June 19th) and at least 11 deaths reported so far due to complications related to the disease.
A report from India’s National Centre for Disease Control found that over 60% of patients treated with the Coronavirus are suffering from psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety. The virus, which the World Health Organization has classified as a priority 1 pathogen, has been spreading rapidly in India since 2012, affecting hundreds of thousands of people each year. Patients suffering from mental health crisis associated with the virus have also been recorded in other countries such as Thailand and Pakistan as well.
What Is The Issue?
The virus, known, has been fatal in about 40% of cases, according to WHO. It is closely related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which appeared in Asia in 2003 and infected more than 8,000 people worldwide. The disease causes fever and pneumonia-like symptoms and can lead to kidney failure. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for it yet.
The most recent outbreak began in Saudi Arabia last year, but since then, cases have also been reported in Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Britain. India’s health ministry said on Tuesday that a 60-year-old man had died from COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital in New Delhi on May 11. He was suffering from diabetes and chronic lung disease, officials said. A woman who was diagnosed with COVID-19 at a hospital in Mumbai died on May 12 after contracting the virus while travelling abroad, health officials said. Her case was unrelated to that of another woman who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Abu Dhabi earlier this month, they added.
India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said he was deeply concerned by India’s first two deaths from COVID-19. I am sure there will be more such cases, he told reporters in New Delhi. We are trying our best to contain it.
The World Health Organization says there are strong indications that person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 takes place mainly in healthcare settings, where close contact between patients and caregivers can facilitate spread of infection.
Symptoms Of Anxiety, Depression, And Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Depression and anxiety are closely linked, they aren’t exactly synonymous. Depression is a general term that describes a state of sadness or despair; people with depression often struggle to find joy in everyday life and experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Anxiety, on the other hand, refers to excessive worrying about everyday situations such as work deadliWhilenes or spending time with friends. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. People with OCD may have recurring, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that cause them distress, feel compelled to perform certain rituals (compulsions), or both.
Common obsessions include fear of germs, fear of harming oneself or others, fear of being contaminated by dirt or germs, and intrusive sexual thoughts. Common compulsions include washing hands repeatedly, checking to see if a door is locked several times before leaving home, counting items over and over again until it feels just right or arranging objects in perfect symmetry. It can be very difficult for someone who suffers from these conditions to carry out normal day-to-day activities because their minds are constantly preoccupied with repetitive, upsetting thoughts. And while it’s common for people to occasionally worry about something or develop fears based on experiences, those who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to worry more frequently and intensely than most others. They also don’t get much relief from their symptoms even after seeking help, which makes living with these mental health crisis & issues, particularly challenging.
Most people who suffer from anxiety and depression will experience periods of remission where they don’t feel depressed or anxious at all—but there are some strategies you can use to prevent your symptoms from flaring up again in the future.
An estimated one in four Indians suffer from some form of mental illness, but only a fraction (only 35%) of those receive any treatment, according to India’s National Human Rights Commission. Experts attribute such a low rate to stigma surrounding mental illness as well as an insufficient healthcare system. Although there are more than 100 psychiatric hospitals across India, most are understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with patients; many facilities lack even basic medical supplies like gloves and soap.
The government has pledged $4 billion for mental health services over five years, but experts say that figure is not nearly enough to address what is now being called a public mental health crisis. Still, many hopes that increased awareness will help destigmatize mental illness and encourage people who need help to seek it out sooner rather than later. People suffering from depression can recover if they have timely access to appropriate care, said Dr. Vikram Patel, a professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Sangath, a non-profit organization working on improving mental health care in India. Mental disorders do not discriminate based on race or social status.
They affect rich and poor alike, men and women, children and adults. But despite how common these illnesses are around the world, too many people still don’t get help because of their misconceptions about mental health problems—or they don’t know where to turn for support. That’s why we launched Together We Will—our global campaign aimed at raising awareness about mental health crisis around the world through educational initiatives, community programs and fundraising activities.
What can we do to tackle this?
The rise in mental health issues as a result of infection with Coronavirus has been staggering. There are numerous ways to prevent infection and also keep it from spreading. Awareness is key when it comes to staying healthy, both physically and mentally. Unprecedented numbers of Indians are seeking medical treatment for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, often resulting in suicide. The government has made several efforts to increase awareness about coronavirus, but we cannot rely on others to help us solve our problems. It’s time to act! It’s time to get involved! We can all make a difference by getting educated and acting today. One way you can do that is by joining Hands Off: A movement committed to providing education and resources about Coronavirus, so that people have access to information they need to protect themselves. Donate or volunteer today!
How to talk about mental health?
Have you ever seen someone who’s struggling with mental health crisis and wondered what to say? Have you ever been around someone who was going through a tough time and not known how to help? There are some basic steps you can take to help them: check in on them, listen, don’t judge or try to convince them that everything is okay. And if they want professional help, offer to go along for support. You might be surprised at how much just being there for someone can mean. And if you’re suffering from your issues, reach out too – others will be there for you when you need it most. No one should have to suffer alone; together we can work towards building a better society for everyone. It all starts with taking care of each other. Let’s start today.
The way Forward
In a country that spends 0.06% of its gross domestic product on mental health—the lowest in South Asia—the virus is hitting medical and social service providers hard. The only public mental hospital in Kota, Rajasthan, has had to release 50% of its patients due to lack of staff to care for them. The hospital currently houses around 100 patients suffering from encephalitis, dengue fever or viral fever. Meanwhile, private hospitals are facing an exodus of mentally ill patients who cannot afford treatment costs. Coronavirus cases have increased our workload by 30%, says Dr Anupam Sibal, who runs a private clinic in Jaipur.
Patients with mild depression have been coming to us with severe symptoms such as panic attacks and anxiety disorder. We’re also seeing more people come to us after they’ve suffered a bereavement or some other trauma. We’re all working harder because we know there’s no one else out there helping these people.
Finding a support
Asking friends and family for help is a fine idea, but if you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, it can be difficult to find words to describe your illness. That’s why finding a local support group for people with similar concerns about mental health crisis can be incredibly helpful when you need help or a place to vent. By joining a support group, you can find people who understand what you’re going through without having to try to explain things over and over again. Support groups also provide opportunities to connect with others facing similar challenges—and that shared experience can go a long way toward helping you feel less alone in your struggles.
If there isn’t a support group in your area, consider starting one! It may seem like a daunting task at first, but most communities are more than willing to rally around someone trying to create change within their community. You can even look online for tips on how to start a support group, as well as templates and guides that will make your efforts easier. And don’t worry about putting yourself out there; everyone deserves to know they aren’t alone in dealing with these issues. You never know how much of an impact you could have on another person just by sharing your story.
The situation is worse than some of us realize. According to recent reports, India’s mental health crisis has spiked with soaring coronavirus cases. As sad as it is, these cases are only a drop in a giant bucket of folks who need help but aren’t getting it. In fact, according to a report by WHO and UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), 1 in 5 people worldwide live with a mental or neurological disorder. And yet less than half receive treatment. This is especially true for children and adolescents – more than 75% of whom live in low-income countries and have limited access to care. It’s time we change that reality for good! But how? We’re glad you asked…
In addition to talking about how to get rid of stigma surrounding mental illness, here are some steps you can take today: Volunteer your time at a local community centre: While there are countless ways you can help others, spending your free time volunteering at a local community centre can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life.