Experts stated that mental health problems like fear and anxiety increased during the second wave of Coronavirus due to the scarcity of COVID-19 relief resources.
Not a single person residing in any country could ever imagine that a time will knock on their doors to confine them in the four walls of their homes. However, the time arrived in 2020 with a contagious disease called Coronavirus which undoubtedly turned it possible and India was also no longer untouched by it. While the disease affected the physical health of humans, a lot many also suffered from mental health problems, where fear and anxiety remained the most common problems to have aroused owning to the pandemic, as per the mental health experts.
Dr. Devashish Palkar, a psychiatrist from Surat outlines the differences in cases during the first and the second wave while also saying that the latter increased anxiety among people. “The cases of fear and anxiety are, no doubt, common in people but the reasons for them are different. The Coronavirus was new in 2020 which caused these problems to occur whereas it increased during the second wave owning to the reports on the scarcity of resources,” the 27-year-old says.
The experts had started observing an increase in mental health problems since the inception of the pandemic. A Counselling Psychologist from Mumbai, Divya Srivastava, says that while she had taken 200 cases in 2019, the cases had increased to 500 in 2020. “The rise is likely to remain the same even in the second wave. However, the basic difference between the first wave and the second is that people were struggling with productivity issues at that time which turned out to be worse in the second wave as they had to deal with survival issues,” she says.
The 31-year-old, Ms. Srivastava also says that the second wave had affected the mental health of experts too. On similar lines, a Clinical Psychologist and Therapist, Bhavna Raja says that the pandemic has been proved to be exhausting for them. “I have been providing therapy to the people for the past 13 years. We, psychologists, very well understand how and what to advise people. At the same time, I can also not deny the fact that the pandemic has made our vision on future unclear as we also do not know what might happen next,” Ms. Raja says. “We are stretching our limits due to the pandemic. We are first humans then psychologists,” the 39-year-old adds.
On influencers being experts
While Bhavna Raja believes that psychologists are trained to control their anxiety and other mental health problems, a lot of internet users were seen falling prey to the social media influencers ready to take advice on anxiety issues. Several Instagram users had also complained of high charges being demanded by the influencers in return for giving therapy on online platforms. Dr. Palkar, while talking about the influencers, says that they need to utilize their popularity in spreading awareness regarding mental health. “Influencers can and must talk about mental health. They possess a good chance to direct the people to doctors and psychologists but avoid advising them,” he says.
Ms. Srivastava, on the other hand, says while people have now become ready to seek help, they have also become more gullible to the ones who are not qualified to provide help. “It’s important to understand that the people who claim to treat someone through their experiences are not the right ones to be approached for mental health advice,” she said.
Understanding right experts and symptoms of mental health problems
The basic criterion while looking for a mental health expert, as mentioned by Divya Srivastava, should be their qualifications. A person must ensure that a Counselling Psychologist holds a Master’s degree in Psychology. However, a Master in Philosophy (M.Phil.) along with a license from the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) is a must for Clinical Psychologists. Similarly, a Life Coach needs to be accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).
Since the pandemic helped in starting the conversation around mental health, experts also believe that one must be aware of the right time for approaching them. “If anything seems like hampering the functionality and interfering in the daily routine like sleep, appetite or affecting the mood throughout the day, then one must look for experts,” Ms. Raja says. She also adds that people are reluctant to take advice from the experts which can only be reduced through awareness.
“The people who have already taken help from the mental health experts and have recovered play a great role in spreading awareness. They must come up and share their experiences with others through platforms,” Dr. Palkar says. He further says that there is a thin line between being cautious and anxious. “The people had become anxious due to the pandemic which is very common However, all of us need to be cautious related to our mental health,” he says.
Experts also urge people to not take their physical and mental health separately and understand that both require equal attention.
For a consultation with Dr. Devashish Palkar (MBBS, final year MD Psychiatry resident at New Civil Hospital, Surat) – +91 99981 41221
For a consultation with Bhavna Raja (Clinical psychologist and therapist, Surat) – +91 99096 65432
For a consultation with Divya Srivastava (Counseling psychologist, Master degree in Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) – +91 99303 32514