The COVID-19 pandemic has brought adverse impacts on mental health of the general population. Four groups of people are particularly hard hit – health care workers, people in quarantine, people who are infected, and family members of people who are in quarantine or infected.
Mental Health Issues of Health Care Workers (HCW)
Doctors, nursing staff, and other professionals have risen to the challenge posed by the pandemic. This is making them very apprehensive and vulnerable to the negative psychological consequences.
Ethics versus duty
Guilt of improper/partial examination of patients
Guilt of lack of proper contact with patients
Reporting their own symptoms
Dealing with death
Death of patients
Death of colleagues
Death of family members
Self-stigma: why am I in this profession
Anticipated Stigma: May will adversely react if they know that I am an HCW
Public stigma: Others may fear that the HCW will spread infection. Being ostracized by neighbors. Eviction notices from landlords/housing societies
Mental Health Issues of People in Quarantine
To some people, the words quarantine and social distancing are being considered as some kind of torture, rather than preventive measures.
People in quarantine or people who practice social distancing are both vulnerable to adverse mental health outcomes. The various issues can range from mild anxiety to various other psychological reactions, development of new psychiatric syndrome, or worsening of pre-existing psychiatric disorder.
Fear, anger, panic, anxiety, depression, frustration, Insomnia
Isolation, disconnectedness, loneliness
Uncertainty about the outcome
Fear of unknown
Fear of death
Dealing with not being tested, but have to remain confined
New-onset psychiatric morbidity
Apprehension about developing the infection
Pathological anxiety in response to normal physical changes
Hypochondriasis-linking any small thing to developing of infection
Withdrawal from substances
Accepting food, which may not be of their own choice
Not accepting the social confinement
Need to use the substances
Mental Health Issues of People Infected with COVID-19
People diagnosed with COVID-19, naturally are expected to be anxious and concerned.
Issues close to diagnosis
Who infected me? – Anger
Did I infect others? – Guilt
Who all have got infected with me? – what is happening to my parents, children, spouse, colleagues, etc
Will I survive? – Fear
Will I get the ventilator – AnticipatoryAnxiety
Acute Stress Reaction
Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia
Issues during the stay in the COVID-19 ward/hospital
Loneliness, social disconnect, socialisolation
Depression, Anxiety, Disturbed sleep, Agoraphobia
Hypochondriasis, Somatosensory Amplification
Uncertainty about future
Discrimination by the healthcare workers
The feeling of not being cared for
Issues Among Family Members of People Quarantined or Diagnosed
Family members of patients diagnosed with COVID can be expected to be worried and concerned. For instance, at a time when patients most need help and support from family members, yet for safety concerns, family members are expected to stay away, from the patients, wards, and even the hospitals. This can lead to a lot of uncertainty and distress among caregivers.
Uncertainty about the outcome
Not able to attend the funeral or carry out the rites as per the religious norms
Sandeep Grover, et al. 2020. “Why all COVID-19 hospitals should have mental health professionals: The importance of mental health in a worldwide crisis!” In Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 51 (2020) 102147.