• Friday, Aug 07, 2020
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OP-ED: There is no health without mental health

  • Published at 04:05 pm July 4th, 2020
Mental Health Mind
Are you okay? BIGSTOCK

We have to be healthy, both physically and mentally, to combat this pandemic

The coronavirus is not only attacking our physical health, it is also growing our mental suffering. Psychological health is at the core of our humanity and there is no health without mental health. It enables us to lead productive and fulfilling lives and to participate liberally in our societies. 

The tremors associated with Covid-19 are now pushing many towards greater fragility and pain and sorrow at the loss of loved ones. Moreover, people are concerned, anxious at the loss of jobs, along with isolation and restrictions on movement, complicated family dynamics, uncertainty, and fear for the future.

People will continue to suffer the impact of sorrow, nervousness, and depression for months or even years. Health care professionals are the most deeply affected. Apart from the health care professionals, the elderly, adolescents, and people with pre-existing mental health conditions are most at risk. 

In this pandemic situation, it’s hard to concentrate on any specific job or task; your brain will be distorting you with many do’s and don’ts and take away your mental peace and make you mentally exhausted. 

How do we build mental strength in these unfavorable circumstances? Although we are not prisoners, it seems we all are in a prison cell. 

Depression embraces many of us and we don’t know how to exterminate it, and there is no concrete resolution on this issue. When the negative vibes continuously ring the bell in our brains’ neurons and normal functions are disrupted due to anxiety, it has become challenging to cope with the situation. The reason is that, as human beings, we often cannot control our emotions.

We should not take mental stress by asking too many times how many new people have been infected or have died. We have to maintain a routine life to build stable mental health; moreover, proper sleeping at night and some exercise will help us fight against stress. 

To adjust with the social distance and all of the new norms which are unusual and unfamiliar to us, we have to accept it both mentally and physically. Furthermore, we also should not regret if we are unable to cope with the new customs very quickly because it is quite natural that some people’s thought processes require more time. 

It has been almost four months since the pandemic started here in Bangladesh. People are living in panic. We are always thinking: What will happen tomorrow? How do I protect my family from this deadly virus while maintaining economic activities and daily life? 

The newly graduated students who are just moving their feet into the job markets, or those working people just laid off must be absolutely frustrated. We should stop worrying about what we can’t control. I know this is easier said than done, but trust me, it really helps. Any job seeker out there can be forgiven for worrying about the state of the job market. That’s only natural. But it would help if you tried not to worry.

After all, you can’t control the market, and worrying about it will only serve to sap your confidence and energy. By focusing on what you can control, you can make changes that will positively impact your job search. Those changes will lead to increased positive feedback and build your confidence. That, in turn, will give you the energy and drive to persevere. And perseverance is essential if you’re going to take advantage of every opportunity.

Even though I’m not a health care expert, to me, mental health problems are the most substantial causes of human unhappiness. Due to poor mental health, mainly during times of crisis, those suffering are often diminished by humiliation and discrimination and, thus, are afraid to seek help from others. If we do not address the mental health needs related to the pandemic, there will be massive long-term consequences for families and societies. 

I think the government, especially the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and civil society, needs to immediately address the severe mental health consequences of this pandemic. We have to be healthy, both physically and mentally, to combat this unseen disease. 

M Shahriar Azad Bhuiyan is the Head of Internal Control & Compliance, UniCap Securities Limited (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Union Capital Limited). He can be reached at [email protected]

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