New Delhi | Pratyush RanjanMental health is a common problem faced by many in the country yet it remains a hushed topic in Indian society. The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even worse with ramifications affecting children as well. It is important to identify the signs of mental health and seek proper medication for it to live a healthy life.

In the latest episode of Jagran Dialogues, Pratyush Ranjan, Executive Editor, Jagran New Media spoke to Dr. Padma Srivastava Professor and Head of Department of Neurology, and Chief of Neurosciences Center at AIIMS, New Delhi, to talk about the COVID related mental health issues and how to deal with them.

Here's is an excerpt from the interview:

Question: Will the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our mental health will continue to remain the same? Was India prepared for such a situation?

Dr. Padma Srivastava: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a lot of issues related to mental health and neurology in recent times. Earlier, we use to think that the virus will only affect the lungs of the human body but later the scientific literature proved that it also affects the brain and triggers psychotic disorders. There are two aspects to this; first- when the virus affects the human brain it may lead to mental issues like anxiety, panic, dispersion etc. Second- due to the lack of mental strength a lot of people are more prone to facing such conditions. Coming to the question of whether India was ready for such a situation- I don't think any country was ready to deal with the pandemic. This is because the world had not witnessed such a pandemic for a long time. However, now we are prepared since we have experienced it.

Question: How to keep a check on mental health during this difficult time?

Dr. Padma Srivastava: There are two ways of dealing with the mental stress people are facing nowadays. The first way is to increase the awareness of people on mental health. People need to distinguish between what is fake news and what is genuine news about the pandemic- that can cause a lot of panic in the mind of people. The second way is to strengthen our body's immunity which will also affect our mental health in a positive manner. One of the most important ways of maintaining mental health is to practice Yoga- which is an age-old tradition that has proved to be effective against stress. Besides, people need to take necessary COVID-19 precautions to stay healthy.

Question: What are the signs of mental health issues that should alert the family and friends of the victim?

Dr. Padma Srivastava: The first sign that may reflect mental health issue is a change in the habit of the person. For example, if a person is very lively and outgoing but suddenly stops interacting with people or taking interest in other things it could be a considerable sign. Otherwise, if a person has suddenly become overemotional, gets irritated, or picks up fights unnecessarily, these could also be signs of disturbed mental health. People should not ignore them and rather consider them as red flags that should be acted upon.

Question: COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the lives of children either due to being isolated, attending strenuous online classes, or losing their parents to the pandemic. In such a situation, what should one do to keep children healthy and secure?

Dr. Padma Srivastava: It is true that COVID's impact on children is more than what is anticipated. More than physical health, the impact is on mental health because they are considered safe from the virus. Although the schools are reopening now and the government has also approved vaccines for them. However, children lack the classroom environment today which is very important for their growth. Even they have lost physical activity and personal space due to being confined at homes that may not be equipped with all the resources. That is why parents have to be cautious of their behaviour towards children. They need to identify the issues faced by children and deal with them in a calm manner and also maintain their immunity and lifestyle.

Question: COVID has also affected the mental health of old-age people or senior citizens, is there a helpline to provide them immediate relief?

Dr. Padma Srivastava: The government must have given a geriatric helpline number for old-age people. Otherwise, we also have emergency services for immediate relief. Old-age people are more prone to heart attacks or brain attacks. COVID has made their comorbidities even worse. In the case of mental health old-age people either become depressed or suffer from dementia. One needs to take care of them in terms of medicine, food, and human company.

Watch the full interview here:

Posted By: Sugandha Jha