Ritesh Chaturvedi (name changed on request) is a senior journalist with a local daily.
Since the past four days, he has been complaining of nausea, is unable to eat and cannot sleep. Two days ago, he consulted his family doctor and was given anti-depressants. In the past ten days, Chaturvedi has lost four colleagues and three close relatives to Covid.
“There has been no closure for me because I could neither bid them a final goodbye nor could I even see them for the last time. Everything is welling up inside. Moreover, my mother is aged and unwell and we have not told her about the relatives passing away,” he said.
His doctor asked him to stay away from WhatsApp and Facebook for a month but Ritesh said that he needs to remain updated with the news on social media.
Pracheta Singh, a class 12 student, is also facing mental health issues.
Her friend, aged 16, succumbed to Covid recently and this has severely impacted her.
“I cannot come to terms with her death. I am feeling increasingly claustrophobic. I look out of the window and there is a deafening silence on the roads. I watch TV and news channels are showing patients dying or pyres burning. The pressure is showing on all of us. My two younger brothers, aged 13 and 11, have also withdrawn into their shell. They are neither playing nor fighting like they usually do – they only lie down gazing at the roof,” she said.
Singh has asked her parents to seek counselling but they turned down her proposal saying that the family’s ‘lockdown behaviour’ was ‘normal’.
Faizal Ali, who runs a popular eatery in the state capital, has also shut down his online home delivery services.
“I am very depressed. My two workers have died due to Covid in the past one week and I do not feel like keeping the work going. My staff tells me to start work but I just do not feel like it. My state of mind is very disturbed and I do not know what to do about it,” he said.
These three people, in different age groups, are now facing similar issues related to mental health.
Dr R.K. Nautiyal, a retired psychiatrist in Kanpur, said, “The pandemic has brought about a sense of fear and anxiety among people and this is leading to short-term as well as long-term mental health implications for adults as well as children.”
Prakriti Poddar, Global Head for Mental Health at Round Glass, Managing Trustee Poddar Foundation, said, “Isolation and loss of near and dear ones have severely affected the mental well-being of many people. Reduced access to family, friends, and other social support systems have also led to loneliness increasing mental issues like anxiety and depression.”
She suggested that one can practise simple relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, mindfulness and meditation. “Maintaining social connections through virtual mediums are crucial to cope with the increased sense of loneliness and anxiety,” she added.