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Understanding mental well-being during COVID-19 pandemic

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During a pandemic such as the one we are currently in, it is common for health professionals, managers, and scientists to focus predominately on the pathogen as well as the biological risks. This is done in an effort to understand the pathological and physiological mechanisms for prevention, containing, and treating the disease.

In such a scenario the psychological and psychiatric implications secondary to the phenomena both on an individual and collective level tend to be underestimated and neglected. Generally forming gaps in coping strategies thus increasing the burden of the pandemic.

The long term consequences are far much enormous than thought. Most of the mental health issues may include fear, worry, and substance abuse-related disorders enabling other correlated diagnosis that result in addiction.

It’s no doubt that the mental health burden continues to increase as measures taken to slow the spread of the virus. Social distancing, businesses and schools’ closures, and lockdowns/curfew orders lead to greater isolation and potential mental and financial distress.

Though it is extremely necessary to reduce the morbidity and mortality rate as a result of the pandemic, we need increased strategic actions for mental health in parallel with the efforts to curb the outbreak.

Hierarchy of human needs

We may wish to understand how motivations have been disrupted based on the hierarchy of human needs in regard to this brave new world. According to one theorist Abraham Maslow, he proposed the theory of motivation in his 1943 paper.

Motivation defined as the process of arousing, directing, and maintains behavior towards a goal (Greenberg2002 😉 the definition seems simple but human motivation is complex: in the light of the current crisis we find ourselves in amid the pandemic, how can an individual understand their own motivations and motivations of others. Our state of mental wellbeing becomes pertinent a far as achieving our goals are concerned. The basic premise of motivation theory is that people are not happy or well-adjusted unless their needs are met)

  • Our physiological needs are under serious threat; consequently, people are experiencing heightened levels of stress.
  • The need for safety (job security, stable businesses) the need for safety also includes functioning in an environment that is physically and psychologically safe. In addition, the environment must be free from harm or perceived harm. This is a dream far-fetched.
  • Socially we are literally disordered. Our needs to feel needed, to belong to a group are threatened. We were used to catching up after work, attending weekend events name it. This is no more, and soon we might see ourselves yelling at our children and spouses, slamming doors to go nowhere. The feeling is indeed paralyzing, but based on research, if the polar researchers and astronauts adapt to isolation in situations more extreme than what we are currently experiencing, we shall surely overcome. Humans are social species vulnerable at birth and safer in groups. Dr. Holt-Lunstad says if we lack proximity to others our bodies will respond, she says ”our brains send signals typically associated with fight or flight we are definitely put on heightened alert.

It is important to note that the lower-order needs must be met before upper needs can be achieved according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Creative ways to keep yourself mentally healthy during this time of covid-19

  • Don’t engage in activities that are unhealthy to the body and the mind (positive thinking and following the laid down procedures to avoid infection of the covid-19.
  • Attempt to connect with others in your home daily through family activities for example kitchen gardening etc., connect with others outside your home through virtual means such as group chats and social media outlets.
  • Be one who encourages others, family members, and peers in their current efforts at surviving this pandemic. Indeed the social and emotional challenge is beyond comprehension.
  • Consider giving back to others who are struggling to get a meal for the day. Altruism –or the act of giving back to others in need was associated with better life adjustment, better marital adjustment, and less hopelessness and depression (Southwick Charney 2018)

It is important to learn more about these potential psychological challenges and ways to adapt to the new routines, environment, and relationships during the covid-19.

No doubt the efforts to stop the spread of the Covid -19 such as self-quarantine, the closing of public spaces have dramatically reordered our social and interpersonal experiences.

  • Routines normally help our mental health, however considering our routines have been thrown out and we are forced into isolation with the added threat of becoming ill from the virus there is indeed a real danger that mental health issues are setting in.

Side note from the author

“From my experience with my patients, there has been an increased number of calls with concerns of mental health. Those with preexisting mental health conditions finding the current situation very difficult to manage. In such cases, it is very important to seek psychological help from a mental health professional from your area.
Our ultimate goal is to come out of this pandemic without collateral damage to a large number of people suffering from subsequent mental health conditions.

I shall strive to emphasize the importance of keeping our mental wellbeing in check during this difficult period.”

#positivity wins
#stay safe
#we shall overcome

Josephine Kinya, Counseling psychologist
Certified mediator/addiction specialist/HR
[email protected]

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