Covid 19 lockdown: What mental health experts say

Four health professionals on coping with the stress of Covid-19 and resources you can use

Bhairavi Prakash, Founder, Mithra Trust

People are reaching out to us on Instagram for help. We have a highlight reel, Covid19 Tips, to offer resources that we update regularly. We’ve also had discussions on several topics, like being ‘productive’ and learning a new skill. Many feel this pressure is too high, especially when everyone is posting about what they are doing. We say, it is okay to not be productive; it is okay to binge-watch shows, stress eat, and cry. Different people cope in different ways. Dealing with financial strain is another hot topic, as many freelancers and entrepreneurs are not sure how to pay bills this month, or if the services they offer will stand valid. The pressure to have a solution or a new offering is also very high. My three self-care steps: do something you love [sing, dance, etc], connect with someone you have not spoken with in a while, and engage with inspiration [nature, motivational quotes, art]. We’ve just launched The Meh — virtual gatherings that provide a safe space to express fears and concerns, a sense of community and belonging, and tools to help cope and ride out this wave. Details: @mithratrust.

Reshma Valiappan, The Red Door India

Remember, you are not alone. Be honest about experiencing panic and fear. Reach out to one person a day, check on them, share something uplifting. Follow the news just to be aware [too much will induce panic]. Read offline and online, walk or exercise indoors, meditate, spend time with pets [if any] and connect with nature. I’d suggest looking for creative activities, looking for creative activities, DIY craft hobby videos, or even signing up for an online course. It is the best time to explore and experiment. Details: mail thereddoorproject@valresh.com | The Red Door, a closed group on Facebook.

Dr Debanjan Banerjee, geriatric psychiatrist, NIMHANS, Bengaluru

For the last month, I have been constantly answering queries and debunking misinformation related to the illness. I get five to 10 calls every day about the risks, the need for testing, routes of viral transmission and treatment requests. A patient with an anxiety disorder reached out because his neighbour works in an office where a case was detected. Another medical practitioner contacted me because she feared infecting her five-year-old child. Stay away from social media as much as possible — you do not need to be updated with every statistic! And do not self-medicate. The elderly are the most vulnerable because, in most cases, they do not use smartphones and need to be told about the precautions. Research shows even a weekly telephonic counselling session can help improve their quality of life. Resources to follow: icmr.nic.in, who.int, cdc.gov, and ha-asia.com

Manoj Chandran, White Swan Foundation, Bengaluru

Due to an overload of misinformation, uncertainty about the future, isolation and changed lifestyles post the lockdown, people may experience issues such as anxiety and stress. Those with existing conditions are also finding it difficult to cope. So it is critical that we prioritise our mental health. Start with meditation or yoga, consume good content and know that you can reach out to people when facing emotional distress. Recommended resources: Visit apa.org and mind.org.uk. Covibook — available for download on mindheart.co — is great to deal with anxiety among children. Earlier this week, the Foundation has also started a newsletter. To subscribe, visit tinyurl.com/MHDigest. For updates, follow mentalhealthind on Instagram.

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