Mental health issues rise during pandemic

BY Dinitha Rathnayake

A significant increase in mental health issues have been reported in Sri Lanka during this Covid-19 pandemic period, according to Karapitiya Teaching Hospital Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Rumi Ruben.

Speaking to The Morning, he said that people who are seeking medical support for such mental health issues have also increased during this period.

“It is not easy to remain mentally stable due to this pandemic. Anyone would get sick since this situation has lasted for more than one-and-a-half years now. The Covid-19 pandemic has likely brought many changes to how one lives one’s life, and with it uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures, and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, whether you’ll lose your job, and what the future will bring. Information overload, rumours, and misinformation can make your life feel out of control and make it unclear as to what to do.”

According to Dr. Ruben, many experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness. And mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen, he noted.

In Sri Lanka, the majority of health workers are showing symptoms of anxiety and depression and this was also revealed in a survey conducted recently, he noted.

Another survey shows an increase in anxiety by 40% and depression by 20% among people around the world.
In Sri Lanka, most of the people become ill during the quarantine period and due to travel restrictions, Dr. Ruben explained.

“Some people refuse to obey the health guidelines due to these reasons. Sometimes, certain children are facing the same problem since they can’t attend school or play with their friends. This might be a reason for a lessening in their personal development as well. Some are addicted to mobile phones due to online classroom sessions. The best solution for this is to be mindful about one’s physical health.”

In this regard, he recommended getting adequate sleep, participating in regular physical activity, eating healthy, avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and taking care of one’s mind by limiting one’s exposure to news media, keeping to one’s regular routine, staying busy, focusing on positive thoughts, using one’s moral compass or spiritual life for support, setting priorities, and making needed connections.