Alleviating the dogmas of mental health in Pakistan and the challenges posed by COVID-19
A look into what 'needs to be done'.
World history is bestowed with unknown sickness and exogenous shocks. But COVID-19 is subtle unique in aspects of its obliteration and aftermaths. Covid-19 was first recognized in China in 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in the month of March (2020). It spread spirally across the world.
The symptoms are associated with severe respiratory problems including dry cough, breathing problems, and fever. It caused massive causalities and abrupt the normal functioning of societies and economies. It is obliterating at an exponential rate with its drastic variants across the world.
To tackle the pandemic, different government authorities implement vigorous restrictions to immobilize the exchange of goods and services. At the global level flights were suspended, industries & factories closed, manufacturing units stopped, and production suspended.
To break the chain of infection the economies gathered in one umbrella and executed the forms of lockdown. Social distancing, the urged need for vaccinations, and new normal precautions of wearing masks are all restriction measures employed by different economies. These restrictions simultaneously induced the behavioral and routine change in individuals at different levels, it inculcates the symptoms of psychological and psychiatric at the individual level.
Pakistan and COVID-19
According to the statistics provided by the Worldometer for Pakistan for the period of 16th December (2021), the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 are 1,290,214 and total death cases caused by COVID-19 are 28,849. These statistics highlight the severity of the pandemic and affect the mental health of individuals.
One of the reports issued by the International Monetary fund for the month of June 2020 speculated the contraction of the global economy by 4.9%, which is propounded three times more than the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Such developments and information exaggerated mental health issues and dogmas. The prime example was the abrupt change in consumer spending, where individuals were concerned about essential goods such as sanitizers, tissues, and masks.
The situation of lockdown in Pakistan is one of the prime reasons for mental instability which is the domain subject. The process of lockdown was entailed with rigorous social distancing.
Government regulations of Pakistan implemented the complete lockdown for three months starting from the end of March to mid of July. Subsequently, it implemented the forms of lockdown such as micro lockdown and smart lockdown to break the chain of infectious viruses.
The challenges faced by the post-COVID world
According to the statistics provided by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate increased by 34.1% for the period of the first lockdown following the pre-COVID conditions. The shocks of pandemics translated into an increase in the unemployment rate and income loss for the people of urban and rural areas in Pakistan.
The period of pre-post COVID-19 evolved the need to reshape the psychological and psychiatric needs of individuals. It is important to comprehend the critical patients of COVID-19 along with post-stress disorders with a stable forum of pandemic management. For underpinning the awareness and acceptance of post-stress disorders such as reactions to COVID-19 by emulated stress, support for psychological needs, and practical assistance for self-care. Multiple organizations working in Pakistan have undertaken certain initiatives.
It is the pivotal need to resolve the mental unhealthiness and traumatic pressures caused by the pandemic in Pakistan. If not treated well, mental issues and traumas will be the future consequences of pandemics. In terms of time, the side effects of pandemics would be everlasting and untreatable.
To highlight and tackle the issues of anxiety, aggression, fear, and stress resultant from COVID-19, social organizations are encompassing the pandemic management with sound campaigns in Pakistan.
‘Improving National Capacity to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic in Pakistan’
The consortium comprising of organizations such as International Medical Corps, Médecins du Monde, CESVI, HELVETAS, Swiss Inter-cooperation, ACTED, Welthungerhilfe, Concern Worldwide with their aesthetic assistance are working on this dilemma to normalize the post-COVID-19 traumatic stress and fear. The campaign entitled ‘Ehtiyaat Wahid Nijat’ is distinguished with two main subjects: the execution of precautionary & preventive measures and assistance to mental health and psychosocial support to the pandemic.
The project is entitled ‘Improving National Capacity to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic in Pakistan’ working on a 360-degree media campaign plan. The project is funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO).
The aim of the project is the containment of viruses and address the aftermaths. This project will summon the repercussions of COVID-19 on mental health by endeavoring the symptoms of psychosocial issues. The consortium has undertaken the association of campaigns in 26 districts of Pakistan by assessing the individuals of Pakistan on social media forums, radio telecasts, and television programs. The factors responsible for the mental problems will be the key ingredient of the project, and the associated risk will be alleviated.
Another encouraging aspect of the project is that it will also assist the individuals of Pakistan with regional and national languages to cope with the risk of abrupt behavioral and mental change. The helpline called ‘KHAYAL’ following the code of 0331-1111 020 is assisting the people of Pakistan with sound mental health counseling in Urdu and seven regional languages. It will aid at free of cost by concerning with expertise of psychologists. It is encouraging to witness that the helpline has mental health experts of both genders.
The initiative such as ‘Ehtiyaat Wahid Nijat’ also elaborates the pivotal preventive measures to cope with pandemics. In such unfavorable situations, such initiatives, campaigns, social media assistance, and symmetric information available to maximum individuals are pivotal to get by the risk of uncertain situations. Such projects are the grass-root structural transformation of social solidarity in the specific economy. It manifests that the people living in social standing in one umbrella forum to assuage the critical factors affecting mentally and physically.
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