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Ensuring good mental health in post-pandemic era

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As most nations are easing lockdown and economic activities are beginning to come into play, there is a growing need for government and civil societies to make and execute policies as regards to the mental health of the citizenry.

Unlike the countries of the first world, most countries of the underdeveloped world before now do not lay much emphasis on the need for maintaining good mental health status. In this clime, most societal problems are neglected until they turn to be an emergency, in fact, we have a track record of being caught by the web of the little things that we failed to do. Most cases of mental health are treated with much indifference until one starts to roam the streets naked and makes the refuse dump a place for refuge.

For most countries like Nigeria, this period have exhumed most underlining factors associated with unstable mental health with increase in the rate of suicide, murder, rape etc. The need for a strong advocacy for mental health has being exposed for all to see as the stress that had come with the pandemic has domineered everyone.

Stigimatision of individuals who have contracted the deadly coronavirus but have been certified negative by the relevant medical authorities has been a rising case in our polity.  The rest of the populace who have being fortunate not to contract the virus treat them with much discrimination and ridicule as if they never wished them to survive. This inhumane act of rejection has continued to push some survivals over the edge.

During the government imposed lockdown, most people who were not used to be in a place for a long period of time seems to be have been caged. For some who do not possess the mental strength of adaptation and resilience, life can never be same.

Most families are on the edge of a wreck, there has being rise in cases were either one of or both spouses complain over attitudes of their better half which has not being in existence before the lockdown. This has also led to an increase in divorce cases. It is imperative to note that before now, the offices and bars had served as temporary escape plan  for individuals who couldn’t handle the daily tantrum of their spouses. For some parents and guardians, the level of worrisome exhibited by their children and wards has risen over cliff as extra-curricular activities are not enough to keep them busy.

For the children, the abuse some of them were exposed to, ranging from family, friends to outsiders during this period is nothing to write home about. Most of them are afraid of raising their voices for fear of being cajoled and not giving a listening ear especially from their parents.  Most kids have become depressed as a result of an unending ruffle between their parents. Sometimes, these kids have become the pawns sacrificed in the bedroom wars of parents. To some, this unhealthy matrimonial scuffle has become a way of life in their family. These ugly events they witness on a daily could become a continuous nightmare to them, as some grow up with behaviour adjudging it to be a way of life thereby becoming a societal problem in human’s interaction and communication.

This period of lockdown has also exposed the adolescent kids to the kind of life they never envisaged. While some who have the means and zeal have turned  their lemon into lemonade by using this period to learn and improve on a skill, others have seen the days pass with nothing to show for it. During this period, some of these school children have divulged into the use of hard drugs and smoking of marijuana while some have become gradually become a menace to the society by taking to crimes. For the girls, there has been an increase in teenage pregnancy over this short period, although, in some cases, these pregnancies are not as a result of youthfulness rather are of rape. It is paramount not lay all the blame on these children in the circumstances they have found themselves, after all we say; an idle man is a devil’s workshop. Had academic and economic  activities been in session, most of these problems would have been averted.

Most people who possess one source of income and limited cash inflow have been in for a treat during the lockdown. Meanwhile, others have been relieved of their jobs due to economic melt down as a result of the pandemic. Most of these people are breadwinners of their immediate families and hope to many others. It wouldn’t be out of place if we could just imagine the financial and mental stress accumulated by these people over this period.

Today, not visiting an old parent, not hugging and kissing a loved one is seen as an act love and kindness. There has been a conscious act of fear in everyone of us. Most people tend to be paranoid on any incoming information through phone calls and texts. For some there has been a greater fear that any calls that comes through with a tag of coronavirus, is a death sentence. People with a bad health history, now seems to be always tensed and stressed. With every little cough, without going to see a doctor, most assumed it to be a symptom of coronavirus.

Much concentration on the media for the coronavirus pandemic news and updates have not helped rather it has increased individuals stress, for man is what he feds himself with. With the daily increase in the number of positive cases and deaths, individuals are left traumatized and worried having to watch people die ceaselessly, this could lead to a negative impact to mental health. As Tiffanie Wen rightly put, “repeatedly watching news of violent events is associated with higher level of acute stress that can negatively impact on our mental health. In other words, being anxious to listen to the pandemic update could lead to stress, which can in turn, commit one to have stroke.

For some, this period have dealt with them in a manner that they might never recover from. The past few months events could range from the death of a loved one, a guardian and to some who have been unfortunate to lose both parents to the deadly virus. It’s difficult to fathom the severity of the mental stress accrued by these  individuals overtime. For example, just last week a woman fainted and went into coma on hearing the news that her husband tested positive for the coronavirus.

It is an open secret that life after pandemic can never be the same again. There has been a growing concern on why government is easing the lockdown particularly now. For most, it is for the economy, as other social relations is still prohibited. In as much as we tend to act normal as we did pre-pandemic, there is fear that going out could lead us to our death. The mental stress acquired over this period is of no use to us, rather it continues to push us to an edge that does us no.

To this, there’s the need to curtail this stress. It would be helpful if individuals talk to someone, especially a mental health expert. This social interaction could be done on virtual platforms rather than physical. Also, physical exercises like jogging could be helpful to easing of the mind, while it is necessary to take a break from listening to the media everytime. For according to Roxana Silver, “Individuals who are more stressed are more likely to be engaged with the media. It is a cyclical pattern”.

In all, it is worthy for us all to maintain a stable mental health, for this fight would be won but how much one clings to it will determine the stability of his or her life. For losing ones mental health this period is the same as contracting and dying from the virus itself.

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