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The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of all age groups, especially teenagers.

By Saish Bhise

Covid-19 is a global health emergency not only in the context of physical health but in mental health too. The novel coronavirus pandemic brought in a slew of parallel epidemics, one among them is dubbed as the silent epidemic; The epidemic of mental health. Mental health issues affect one in every four people, which also includes around 20% of the world's children (below the age of 12) and teenagers. The problem has been exacerbated due to the ongoing pandemic, by disrupting the healthcare systems across the world. Yet funding for mental health care remains critically low. To be precise, around 2% of global health funding is utilized for mental-health-related works.

Mental health is already a heavily stigmatized topic in India. There are various preconceived notions, stereotypes prevailing in Indian society regarding mental health. Moreover, India spends a nominal amount of its total health care budget on mental health. The second wave of Covid-19 brutally raged through the country. During the peak, daily new cases crossed the 4 lakh mark and daily deaths crossed the 4 thousand mark. Lack of medical oxygen, ICU beds, ventilators, essential medicines, has plagued the country with anxiety, frustration and moreover fear.

woman sitting on bed Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash

One of distributing facets of the ongoing covid-19 mental health crisis is that its scope is virtually unlimited. Right from kids to senior citizens, everyone and anyone are vulnerable to the dangers of mental health. With consecutive lockdowns, the emotions of loneliness, uncertainty, anxiety, and last but not least fear, all have intertwined with our daily lives.

As one of the premier institutes in the field of neuroscience, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has also found itself at the forefront in the campaign against the coronavirus. Its prestigious faculty and hardworking students have not only provided much needed mental health support to thousands of people all across the country, but its genomic sequencing unit has been instrumental in comprehending the various intricacies of the virus. During the initial days of the pandemic, NIMHANS set a dedicated helpline to address the growing concerns regarding the novel coronavirus. The "National Psychological Helpline" as it is named, has since then received more than five lakh calls.

Sceptics have sounded an alarm over the rise in covid fatigue. As the pandemic rages on indefinitely, the overall well-being of society will deteriorate significantly. India's top medical experts have already sounded an alarm for the third wave. With a large number of tourists pouring in at Mussoorie, Shimla and other holiday destinations, the third wave of Covid-19 is on the horizon. But, this time the mental health consequences would be as debilitating as the physical ones. It is high time that policymakers consider mental health as a national health crisis.



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