The indefinite isolation, uncertainty, scarcity of resources and information overload during lockdowns to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus has made life especially difficult for people with pre-existing mental health issues.
Dr Sarika Boora, a Delhi-based clinical psychologist, said that identifying your coping mechanism is the best way to beat stress and stay busy.
“Some people do yoga, others find cleaning soothing. It’s best to figure out what suits and soothes you at this time of distress,” she said.
While many places suggest building a routine is useful, Boora says it’s not the same for everyone and some may even find a fixed schedule monotonous.
”Tweaking your routine from time to time is helpful. If one day you decide to experiment with cooking, the next day, it’s better to find another activity to keep your quarantine time healthy and productive,” she said.
Dr Boora also said excessive knowledge and misinformation could be harmful in the long run. “State-sponsored information is always credible and is preferred over misinformation which you find on social media. It is also preferred to watch out websites of WHO, CDC as they put out credible information and announcements regarding the outbreak. Inaccurate and excessive information can add to the stress,” she said.
But given there’s little clarity on when lockdown will be lifted in India, here’s where you can get some tips for mental health:
The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has launched a toll-free number -08046110007 – to address mental health issues.
Mpower, an organisation that aims to promote mental well-being, has collaborated with the Government of Maharashtra and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to launch a toll-free helpline number 1800-120-820050. Callers can speak with qualified mental health counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists. The facility is operating 24×7.
Dr Boora said that helplines don’t work for everyone, but can help. “It’s all about finding someone whom you can talk to, for some, just talking and venting out might help,” she said.
Though the applications don’t fully compensate for human contact and interaction, chatbots can help people reach out without the fear of stigma. These chatbots don’t offer a diagnosis but can listen and respond to provide support.
Here are some chatbots you can use:
The app responds to the emotions a user expresses and uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT),
meditation, breathing, yoga, motivational interviewing and micro-actions to help build mental resilience skills. After the pandemic AI chat and tool packs for anxiety and isolation support have been made available for free.
This platform provides online therapy with the help of licensed health professionals. The application is not free. Users can communicate with therapists by leaving text, audio, and video messages at any time.
Like Wysa, this chatbot uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT) which works with both iOS and Android. It also has a user-friendly interface.
These live discussions are centred on resources that may help people maintain a connection with others or support systems virtually.
1. Youth and Mental Health: UN organisations UNICEF and World Health Organisation have put out a webinar series on “Youth and Mental Health” which started on April 1st.
2. Non-profit organisations like Mental Health America have already conducted several webinars regarding mental health during COVID-19.