Mental Health Awareness during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the management of it may be experienced as stressful by some people, and can have an effect on mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak to help manage fear and anxiety, and the Psychological Society of South Africa (Psyssa) released a statement relating to psychological well-being. Managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health (WHO).

What is the guidance that is provided?

Be aware of some of the signs/symptoms of stress, which according to the CDC, could include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of coping strategies such as alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Other symptoms could include emotional symptoms (sadness, irritability, anger), body aches and pains, and reduced energy levels.

So what are some of the practical steps that you can take?

Don’t get so wrapped up in thinking about the coronavirus that you forget the essential, healthy practices that affect your well-being and that of your loved ones every day. The WHO and Psyssa advise that you make sure you:

  • Limit the news and be careful what you read – get news from reliable, trusted and reputable sources
  • Maintain a daily routine
  • Engage in self-care strategies – doing things you enjoy such as reading a book or watching a movie
  • Get adequate sleep and maintain a regular sleep routine
  • Keep up with proper nutrition by eating healthy food
  • Drink enough water
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Avoid using coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
  • Stay connected with your loved ones, including through digital methods to maintain contact, while limiting your exposure to negative social media that could lead to anxiety
  • Look after you wider health needs such as having enough prescription medication
  • Contact a professional for assistance should you feel your mental health is declining

The information provided is a synopsis of the following articles: