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Stop watching TV news: Top Kashmiri psychiatrist calls`infodemic’ more dangerous than pandemic

SRINAGAR:  A top Kashmiri psychiatrist has called upon the people to stop watching the news saying the `infodemic’ is adding to the anxieties more than the pandemic itself.

Dr. Arshad Hussain, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Srinagar, said information overload about the COVID 19 is hugely adding to the anxieties of the common man. 

“Besides pandemic, there is an infodemic going on. People are overwhelmed by the information and most of it is unwanted and unneeded.  I usually tell people to stop watching the news. Earlier the wars were fought at distant places. But when TV came, wars reached our drawing rooms. Similarly, the hyperbolic channels are adding to the fears,” Dr. Arshad told The Kashmir Monitor in an exclusive interview.

He said people are reading journals that are meant for doctors and that is adding to their worries. “There are journals that are useful for doctors. I have seen common man reading them and getting lots of fears. I see a common man thinking about vaccines. I do understand COVID along with infodemic is different from other pandemics we have had in the past,” he said.

Dr. Arshad noted that people are distressed because doctors are still not in control of the situation. “There is a lot of economic loss. And all of that does affect people’s mental health. If you use it positively, we may come unscathed as far as mental health is concerned. Survival is very important. If we start burdening ourselves than things will be bad. This is the time we hold on and do all rational things,” he said.

Pitching for reviving humor in daily lives, he said it is time that senior citizens are taken care of because social distancing may have an impact on their mental health.

“Senior citizens are very vulnerable and we need to take care of them. Elders should not feel lonely. Social distancing should not impact them. We should get to their rooms and spend time with them. Even I suggest the younger generation should teach them WhatsApp and other social media tools. That way they will feel better,” he said.

Dr. Arshad also called for making online classes interactive and lively to help the children to overcome fears. “Children are emotionally vulnerable. We should not scare them.  The online class concept is very good. But teachers should not only be teaching, but they should also be talking. Students should also be allowed to interact. Sometimes, reciting rhymes or cracking jokes should also be part of the curriculum to make them feel at ease,” he said.