Make Your Mental Health a Priority

Mrs. Lipi suddenly came to the drawing-room and found her husband, Mr. Rahim who is a patient of diabetes and hypertension, trembling and sweating by watching news on TV. She rushed to him, switched off the TV and assured Mr. Rahim that things will be fine and soon they will visit the doctor. But Mr. Rahim got agitated and said the news are constantly showing how aged people with diabetes and hypertension are dying regularly. Meanwhile, he has not been able to go to a doctor for a long time to have idea about his current physical condition.

The above scenario has become very common since coronavirus appeared both in the physical and mental world of human life, creating a socio-economic crisis while aggregating the psychological distresses all over the world, resulting in suicide as the extreme consequences of such mental burdens.

Psychological complications, such as stress, depression, anxiety, frustration, etc. are expanding their areas, leaning on the shoulder of Covid-19. The uncertainty of life has compelled everyone to experience a razor-sharp terror due to the mass quarantine which was imposed by the government as an immediate initiative to cease the spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, the inadequate and anxiety-provoking information given by the media built the pervasive community anxiety that ends up entwined with disease outbreak.

The bread-earners of every family are going through an inner torment because of being exposed to the risk on a daily basis, nurturing inside a sense of menace whether infecting other family or fellows. These people are observed to be vulnerable than others, expressing consternation when any symptoms appear that are linked to the infection.

The pandemic hours too have put a translucent picture of the socio-cultural factors that affect the mental health of women. The domestic chores and care activity raised in a drastic manner compared to the pre-pandemic elevation for schools and offices being closed and the new trend of work-from-home. Taking care of the family needs, cooking and other chores without home assistant who are forbidden initially as an act of awareness, in-house adult and sick people care, office work if employed together with extra hygiene precautions leave no room for women themselves. On top of that, the sardonic action and use of mordant words of family members make the realm of mental disturbance of women even more extensive.

The prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Bangladesh is really high, associating with adverse health outcomes. Few economical and social factors are contributing in the increase susceptibility to IPV. For instance, low production and supply chain disruption in this pandemic hour has rendered around 6 million people jobless in various sectors and created a ripple effect in mental health, which has metamorphosed to IPV.

Despite these problems, limited option left for women in the abusive relationship. Families are hardly interested to financially support their daughter after marriage, and most of the women do not have money to live by themselves.

In-house violence and rape cases have reached to its peak during the pandemic hour. Less access to legal support, health care service and travel restriction added dimension to the issues of domestic violence. Moreover, rape victims are hardly encouraged to seek medical support due to the fright of further getting infected by the virus and the realization of the health system is being already overburdened. Despite the law against it, frequent cases of child marriage happened afterwards the closure of educational institutions. Experts fear that the burden of economics stress going to affect the women’s lives on a large scale, their education might hamper to minimize the expenses while the rate of early marriage would be witnessing a sudden rise.

These psychological problems are the common complications of many chronic or severe medical conditions. Such mental issues help in increasing the burden of physical illness and somatic symptoms among the people with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, obesity, cancer etc. Meantime, depression weakens the willingness for self-care and maintenance of treatment regimens thus causing increased mortality.

Thousands of such untold stories are getting bigger during this Covid-19 situation. The need for psychological support and balanced mental health will increase rapidly in the coming days. But compared to this predicted burden, the number of psychiatrists in health sectors and psychologists together with counselors in educational and others intuitions are not adequate yet. To support the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day, let us increase investment in the areas of mental health and contribute to building life harmonious.

By Ummay Farihin Sultana

Assistant Coordinator, Eminence Bangladesh.

Published on The Daily Star on 10 Oct 2020.