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Introduction - Impact Of Covid-19 Pandemic Issues On Mental Health And Well-Being
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The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated its devastating effects worldwide, affecting over 138 countries, and its effects have been displayed on every type of individual irrespective of their age. The health outcomes have been immense to such an extent that the death toll started rising in even developed countries. The prevalence of depression in Australia has been more than 27% after the pandemic, directly from a minor 10% (Healthdirect, 2022). In worst-case scenarios, the mental imbalance can even lead to suicidal tendencies which point out the emergence of the issue. In this essay, it has been tried to evaluate the mental health impacts of Covid-19, concentrating on the Australian population.
It is required to find out the negative effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of the Australian population.
Discussion on covid-19 and mental health
Reasons for the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and well-being of Australians
Covid-19 has been proven to spread as a droplet infection that is more likely to infect individuals in confined places. As a measure to invade this strategy of the virus, the governments of the individual countries decided on implementing certain counteracting policies. The primary one was the isolation of the affected individuals from the rest of the family and household. The national Cabinet was advised by the “Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)” regarding the implementation of such policies to combat the spread (Li et al. 2021). The motive behind this abrupt decision by the group of chief healthcare officers belonging to this committee from each state and territory was to secure the physical well-being of the individuals. However, the mental health outcome has failed to gain attention. As mentioned by Rossell et al. (2021), people who have been isolated from their near ones are likely to develop stress and even suicidal thoughts. This issue is more common in the case of older people who seek company the most at this age.
A second initiative of the Australian Government, just like the other countries, was the policy of safe distance. This made the individuals avoid physical contact with other people leading to communication gaps. The social and emotional bonds are strengthened when oxytocin is released due to physical contact, and this was greatly hampered by the pandemic (Fisher et al. 2020). The loss of physical contact has been a reason for vulnerability leading to symptoms of fear and anxiety. Besides, the lockdown implemented by the government has induced panic in the people since it provided a generalized idea about the threat of the pandemic. “Anxiety”, “paranoia”, “depression”, and “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” have been common occurrences during the quarantine periods of most individuals (Dawel et al. 2020). Obsessive behaviors like repeated washing of hands, reluctance to leave the house premises, and panic buying of necessary household items have all been signs of mental imbalances developing due to the pandemic.
The physical health complications due to Covid-19 have directly led to the deterioration of mental health. In addition to that, many people have lost their close ones to the disease which has been a reason for extreme grief. Since the pandemic has taken the lives of people irrespective of their ages, individuals who have lost near ones at a young age have transitioned to a phase of depression (Rossell et al. 2021). Besides, strategies like “working from home” and social isolation have made people more dependent on technology leading to stress and depression for losing emotional attachment with the family.
The biopsychological impacts of the contemporary issues on individuals diagnosed with mental illness
The pandemic has resulted in a vast socio-economic crisis leading to psychological distress worldwide. In Australia as well, the consequences of this psychological distress have been observed in mental health. As said by Newby et al. (2020), these included stress, anxiety and frustration due to the uncertainty of the span of the pandemic. Almost every social activity has been restricted by the individual government, and in spite of that, there has been a hike in the number of cases all over Australia, just like in other countries. Due to this, emergency protocols had to be implemented for which most frontline healthcare workers had become vulnerable to the emotional impacts of the infection. As said by Furlong & Finnie, (2020), the most common psychological problems that emerged due to the mass quarantine were pervasive communityanxiety and generalized fear.
The media coverage of the disease provoked anxiety in the people leading to collective hysteria and pervasive hopelessness feelings. In some cases, the desperation has led to suicidal tendencies due to the abnormal elevation of anxiety. The modern civilization that is an enthusiast in rapid travelling and communication has been forced by social isolation to get frustrated. This has been a clear demonstration of the helpless nature of human beings against the detrimental effects of a biological disaster (Neill et al. 2020). Other prevalent psychological symptoms included emotional disturbance, mood fluctuations, irritability and insomnia. Anger and emotional exhaustion have been commonly observed in the people under quarantine, along with fear, confusion and numbness. The behavioural changes were displayed to be long-term since the habits of reported hand washing, and crowd avoidance had been prevailing even after the upliftment of the quarantine. This delayed normality return has been a result of dysfunctional psychological consequences on the mental health of people [Refer to appendix 1].
The most common psychological reaction to the pandemic has been the uncontrolled fear of getting infected, followed by pervasive anxiety due to social isolation. Frustration and boredom have been common, especially in the children, due to not being able to leave the household premises. In addition, the employed people working from home have been victims of this due to not being able to communicate with the family in spite of being at home. Disabling loneliness has been observed due to social isolation, and most people have been getting addicted to substance abuse (Toh et al. 2021). The risk factors included alexithymia which is a condition where mood fluctuations are inexplicable.
Evaluate resources to help all support people suffering from Covid-19 related complications
Physical and mental health is interrelated, due to which most of the affected individuals have faced mental issues. However, since mental health is not visually accessible, it has often failed to get the necessary medical attention, like physical complications. As mentioned by Van Rheenen et al. (2020), the primary suggestion that can be provided to people suffering from mental issues is to get adequate sleep. It is recommended to avoid diverting from the daily routines, and that way, physical well-being can be assured. Physical activities are advisable, which are proven strategies to reduce anxiety and stress and can also improve mood. However, that might require travelling outside the home which might not be possible due to the quarantine. Prioritizing a well-balanced diet would strengthen immunity, and that way, the infection can be prevented in the first place (Biddle et al. 2020). Besides, the health professionals also suggest avoiding tobacco smoking since it can make an individual more susceptible to the disease considering that the respiratory tract is the primary attack site of the virus.
Technology dependence has increased during the quarantine period implemented due to the pandemic since travel had been restricted. As per the suggestions of health professionals, it is necessary to limit screen time to avoid stressing the eyes and brain. Rather, the family members need to be communicated with, and a separate time has to be planned out for evaluation. As referred to by (Li et al. (2021), media has been the source of panic in most of the population, and hence recovering from that would require avoiding anxiety-provoking news to the maximum possible extent. The most important thing to focus on for ensuring mental well-being is avoiding social stigma. Discrimination not only hampers the mental balance of the victim by the unnecessary hatred towards another person might also prove to be harmful to the person displaying it. Overall, obsessive behaviours can be avoided if there is an ability to distinguish between the actual fact and rumor and act accordingly.
The devastating effects of the pandemic have been displayed on the physical and mental health of people worldwide. The deterioration of physical well-being has been a reason for the decline in mental health. The other reasons behind the mental issues have been the loss of near ones to the diseases. Besides, regulations implemented by the government, like social distancing and quarantine to prevent the spreading of the virus, have contributed the mental issues. However, since mental health is still stigmatized in some regions of Australia and even in the most developed countries, there has not been enough medical attention provided to it. Healthcare professionals have provided recommendations and advice to people suffering from mental issues due to the pandemic regarding ways they could combat them. It would require the people to break the barriers of social stigma and adhere to these suggestions such that the rates of mental issues can be reduced.
- Biddle, N., Edwards, B., Gray, M., & Sollis, K. (2020). Initial impacts of COVID-19 on mental health in Australia. Canberra, ACT: ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University, 10. doi:10.26193/HLMZNW
- Dawel, A., Shou, Y., Smithson, M., Cherbuin, N., Banfield, M., Calear, A.L., Farrer, L.M., Gray, D., Gulliver, A., Housen, T.& McCallum, S.M., (2020). The effect of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing in a representative sample of Australian adults. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, 579985. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.579985
- Fisher, J. R., Tran, T. D., Hammarberg, K., Sastry, J., Nguyen, H., Rowe, H., ... & Kirkman, M. (2020). Mental health of people in Australia in the first month of COVID?19 restrictions: a national survey. Medical journal of Australia, 213(10), 458-464. doi: 10.5694/mja2.50831
- Furlong, Y., & Finnie, T. (2020). Culture counts: the diverse effects of culture and society on mental health amidst COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 37(3), 237-242. doi:10.1017/ipm.2020.37
- Healthdirect. (2022). COVID-19 and mental health. Retrieved on 01 September 2022. Retrieved on: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/covid-19/mental-health-and-wellbeing
- Li, S. H., Beames, J. R., Newby, J. M., Maston, K., Christensen, H., & Werner-Seidler, A. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the lives and mental health of Australian adolescents. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01790-x
- Neill, E., Meyer, D., Toh, W. L., van Rheenen, T. E., Phillipou, A., Tan, E. J., & Rossell, S. L. (2020). Alcohol use in Australia during the early days of the COVID?19 pandemic: initial results from the COLLATE project. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 74(10), 542-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/pcn.13099
- Newby, J. M., O’Moore, K., Tang, S., Christensen, H., & Faasse, K. (2020). Acute mental health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. PloS one, 15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236562
- Rossell, S. L., Neill, E., Phillipou, A., Tan, E. J., Toh, W. L., Van Rheenen, T. E., & Meyer, D. (2021). An overview of current mental health in the general population of Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic: Results from the COLLATE project. Psychiatry research, 296, 113660. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113660
- Toh, W. L., Meyer, D., Phillipou, A., Tan, E. J., Van Rheenen, T. E., Neill, E., & Rossell, S. L. (2021). Mental health status of healthcare versus other essential workers in Australia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic: Initial results from the collate project. Psychiatry research, 298, 113822. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113822
- Van Rheenen, T. E., Meyer, D., Neill, E., Phillipou, A., Tan, E. J., Toh, W. L., & Rossell, S. L. (2020). Mental health status of individuals with a mood-disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia: initial results from the COLLATE project. Journal of affective disorders, 275, 69-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.06.037