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Mental health and COVID

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The devastation brought by the ongoing wave of COVID-19 in India is, without an iota of doubt, the worst national crisis the country has faced since it achieved independence from the British. The fact that a country of over 1.3 billion souls is hit with such ferocity itself explains the scale of this catastrophe. One feels numb reading and seeing the heart wrenching stories of people dying outside hospitals, and bodies lining up at cremation centres as families wait in despondency to bid their loved ones adieu in these strangest of strange times. Apart from this being the largest healthcare crisis of the last 100 years, people are also witnessing an emotional rollercoaster. Something that is bound to deeply impact our psychological as well as our emotional well-being. It is as such important to ensure that we take care of our mental health in this crisis. According to research, bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. Studies show that COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection ̶ they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death. According to World Health Organisation COVID-19 is likely to affect many more people across the world. To ensure that the psychological impact of this pandemic is the least, WHO recommends that when referring to people with COVID-19, one must not attach the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality. One must be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country. People who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion and kindness.  WHO also recommends people to minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources and mainly so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not rumours and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals from credible sources and local health authority platforms in order to help you distinguish facts from rumours. Facts can help to minimize fears.