The uncertainty, the stressful information we receive from the media, the anxiety of getting infected and accidentally spreading the virus to loved ones are some of the common feelings that are seen to toll the mental strain. Numbness, frustration, insomnia, irritability, and emotional exhaustion have been reported frequently among the people who got quarantined. Experts say that the effects could also be longer in the term.
The pandemic (COVID-19) has pushed people to social distancing as a crucial way of stopping the spread of the contagious disease. Apart from the uncertainty and stress caused, this global pandemic has already taken a significant mental strain because of the lockdown. The quarantine-imposed isolation often leaves people to feel cut off from the rest of the world. Even if people are at home with family members, the sense of loneliness can be strong.
Although this feeling can only be temporary, even brief periods of lockdown can have negative effects on mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, social isolation poses many mental health threats such as anxiety and depression. Perhaps not just social isolation, even safety measures such as wearing a face mask have raised anxiety feelings among people. The uncertainty, the stressful information we receive from the media, the anxiety of getting infected and accidentally spreading the virus to loved ones are some of the common feelings that are seen to toll the mental strain. Numbness, frustration, insomnia, irritability, and emotional exhaustion have been reported frequently among the people who got quarantined. Experts say that the effects could also be longer in the term.
Listening to people affected by COVID 19 and those who are being quarantined is essential to keep them psychologically healthy. Listening is an integral part of efficient pandemic communication. Through listening health workers can learn the way people are affected and involved, how they respond to the outbreak, perceptions of problem management, levels of confidence and trust in authorities, cultural or socio-economic obstacles that may hinder the adoption of measures to stop infections.
The COVID outbreak is also followed by misinformation and rumours. Listening can also help to track rumours and for better understanding on how to tackle them. It is also significant in buffering people from long term consequences of the stress and emotional exhaustion they feel during the pandemic. Some of the reported cases of suicides during this lockdown period indicate the urgent need for listening to infected as well as quarantined people. It was reported that some of the suicides during this period was the result of extensive anxiety related with the news of spreading the virus to loved ones and a stronger sense of loneliness and meaninglessness.
Listening Community, an initiative by a group of mental health professionals calls attention to the importance of creating a culture of listening in the community. They point out that the strong sense of loneliness experienced by people despite being at home with family members shows a lack of listening culture. People in quarantine are trying to make themselves engaged in various activities like watching movies, playing video games and spending time on social media. However, the human nature of self-evaluation can cause people to feel disturbed when they perceive they are not spending time in meaningful ways to boost intimacy in the family.
Staying connected with loved ones, engaging in physical and mental exercise, cooking with family members, and reading books can make people feel meaningful and intimate. Volunteers of the Listening community convey that people who feel less connected and meaningless are more prone to develop symptoms of stress and depression during the quarantine days. Listening Community members serve as ‘listening volunteers’ for people around them and also refer needy people to mental health experts.