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.