Grow Labs

BRAIN AND MENTAL HEALTH

The social and economic fissures exposed by the pandemic will result in mass unemployment, depleted social safety nets, starvation, increase in gender-based violence, homelessness, alcoholism, loan defaults and millions slipping into poverty. This post-COVID landscape will be a fertile breeding ground for a boost in chronic stress, anxiety, gloominess, alcohol dependence, and self-harm. As this pandemic is taking over the world, there’s another public crisis rearing its ugly head, this crisis seems more lethal and comes with a longer lifespan than the coronavirus itself. The online assault of rapidly updating media stories reporting worst-case scenarios can fuel fear and panic. Uncritical and naïve overconsumption of such messages can corrode one of our most precious and essential human resources for weathering the COVID-19 storm on our mental health. Even before the virus outbreak, depression and anxiety have been noted as common features of our times. Isolation and uncertainty are not going to help us deal with the new realities of our newly virtual lives including virtual work, virtual schools and virtual family care under the incredible stress of unusual circumstances. These consequences are of sufficient importance that immediate efforts focused on prevention and direct intrusion are needed to deal with the impact of the outbreak on individual and population level mental health.

There are five facts about stress, the brain and mental health that can help.

  • Brain and our immune system are deeply linked to each other. The immune system is the prime referee of environmental agents such as microbes, chemicals and the infamous COVID-19. It is intimately linked to our mood and to a number of brain maladies from Alzheimer’s disease to stress and depression.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Stress is normal and healthy, but too much persistent stress is not. High and unfettered levels of stress have a number of harmful consequences on the brain, immunity and the vascular system, leading to blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure and impaired immunity and inflammatory responses, the very precise opposite of what we need to fight the potential impact from COVID-19 exposure.
  • Physical exercise is essential for both physical and mental well being; it has been linked to brain connectivity and better oxidation to both the heart and mind. It also aids in mindfulness and relaxation thus improving mood and sleep quality.
  • Investing in mental health pays long-lasting dividends. Studies have shown that future mental and physical health is related to previous investments in mental and physical health. It’s never too late. Therapy is a great initiative for this, investing into good therapists will bear fruits in the coming future.

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