There's a mental health crisis brewing in India right now. With the current coronavirus pandemic around the world and the lockdown in India many Indians are worried their time in isolation will lead to feelings of depression, uncertainty, worry, stress and anxiety.
Ananya Chatterjee, a masters student at IGNOU, Delhi tells FIT that her worries are compounded by the lack of essential medication and services available. “For a person like me, who is a mental health patient and has to depend on medicines this basically means that I will have to face anxieties and uncertainties without having any essential services or support systems.”
Her struggles to ger her hands on the medicines she needs for anxiety, depression and insomnia have fostered more mental health issues and increased the need for such medicines in a cycle she finds herself trapped in.
Logistical issues surrounding the availablity and stock of her reuired medicines, and the closing down of clinics that offered more avenues to get said medicines have put her in a state of worry as well.
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Meanwhile, Fawzia Khan, a freelance photographer is wary of the ill-effects of social media and the intense desire to make every moment of this sudden free time count.
There are people that are struggling and to see people do things all the time can you make you feel inadequate about how you are spending your day.
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Fortunately, it's 2020 and mental health problems are seen and heard - and there's help available.
Many counsellors and mental health professionals have moved their practice online and are offering online therapy sessions so that they’re still accessible. Also, many are starting online group therapy and healing spaces or even pro-bono therapy just so that they reach more people because they are anticipating the growing number of cases.
Hena Faqurudheen, a trauma-focused psychotherapist and pro-bono counsellor tells me what we might be expecting in terms of mental health cases during this lockdown
“This is a really unprecedented situation. In many ways, these are extraordinary times. A lot of people with already existing conditions have felt that not having a predictable schedule has made lie difficult to manage,” she says.
She adds that there are many people who find routines in itself stressful.
Mental health is challenging and nuanced, but what are the specific anxieties of Indians in these extraordinary times?
Mental health professionals bridging are attempting to brigde the gap by offering online services. What are some coping mechanisms they offer to help us ride this wave?
The tendency to over-consume news has been inculcated in us over the years with the every-growing 24/7 news cycle. And it makes sense to want to be informed during a health crisis. But over-consumption can take a toll on you - and the flood of bad news can overwhelm us all.
It’s best to find a balance between having a purpose and being over-productive and burning out. Hena tells me it’s often useful to think about it in terms of, “When do you feel most energetic in a day?”
“There’s a reason we use terms like early bird and night-owl as those refer to different points of the day where different people have different energy levels. That’s perfectly fine, everyone is different. If you already know where your energy level is during the day aim to have analytic work like writing, creating stuff plan those around those times,” she says.
It is important to recognise that the feelings of anger, frustration and fear are natural ones and try to befriend our feelings. And to remember, there is help still available - be it through online or tele-therapy sessions.