COVID-19 pandemic a huge challenge for mankind: Prof Lenin

IMPHAL, 10th Apr: The deadly COVID-19 pandemic is a huge challenge for human beings but we should not panic at this crucial period and rather move forward with mutual discussion. It would be hard to overcome this pandemic if we fail to remain fit and maintain calmness at this hour, stressed professor Dr RK Lenin, head of the department of psychiatry, RIMS.
The ongoing nation-wide lockdown imposed to deal with COVID-19 pandemic has affected every section of the society but daily wage earners and economically weak families are the worst hit. Apart from them, those currently lodged at different quarantine centres opened by government and those under home quarantine are facing mental hardship as they fear of what symptoms would develop within 15 days and what their future would be if test positive of the deadly virus. The same apprehension is also with doctors, nurses and medical staff who are in the frontline of the ongoing fight against COVID-19. These frontline COVID-19 fighters are not only facing problem of separation from family members as they work for long hours at hospitals with COVID-19 patients but also face indifferent attitude from local people when they return home as the latter suspect them of contracting the disease, professor Lenin observed.
Apart from creating mental hardship to common people, COVID-19 pandemic even pushed some individuals fearful of contracting the virus to a panicky situation and this over-panicky situation might weaken minds of these people and even to the extent of committing suicide. Apart from increasing pulse rate and difficulty in breathing, these fearful people would also become emotional, sleepless and unwilling to communicate with other people and might even want to consult doctor suddenly. They might overcome the phenomenon if it is for short duration but could develop into other mental problems like anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder and depression. Some of these people could even develop into ‘worried well’, a phenomenon of a person claiming contracting a disease without actually suffering from it, professor Lenin added.
Many experts talk of washing hands properly and frequently to get rid of the deadly virus but this practice might even develop ‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder’ commonly known as OSD to some people who always suspect of carrying pathogens. The present tension may also worsen health conditions of people having mental problem as also those suffering from diabetes, high BP and allergy.
Apart from giving different kinds of impact to people already suffering from mental problem, there is possibility that the present pandemic would worsen conditions of many patients already on medication and recovery stage. The pandemic might also bring recovered patients to their earlier health condition and this could create restlessness to some patients and even to the extent of committing suicide.
Social media is a useful medium but some people are intentionally uploading baseless reports without knowing the truth and this could weaken minds of the people, professor Lenin said and suggested that social media should not be perused frequently and unnecessarily as fake report uploaded on social media could weaken minds of the people.
According to professor Lenin, people could identify works to be performed at home during the lockdown like cleaning up the house, gardening, listening to music and cooking as sitting idly at home for a long time is not good for health and weaken muscles apart from reducing blood flow. Meditation, mind exercise and performing desired spiritual activity during lockdown would not only be helpful but also prevent one from over-fearing, he said adding that a person needs to sleep from seven to nine hours daily to remain strong mentally and one should also consume good food.
Television, mobile and computer are becoming household commodities and necessity nowadays as these electronic products provide valuable information but the use of this medium should be minimal, he said adding that one should not use addictive substance to pass time during lockdown. He observed that the ongoing lockdown is the best time for consultation among family members and chalk out career planning for children.
While asserting that preventing COVID-19 depends on mentality and talents of one person to another but one should not take it lightly, professor Lenin expects a significant change in lifestyles of the people and an eminent chaotic society if the pandemic happens to lengthen further and this could even develops into another epidemic.
While suggesting that we should not remain emotional by thinking negative side of the pandemic always, professor Lenin advised people to always think of positive side of the pandemic as this would help in preventing mental problem. He also advised people to use available resources at the minimal and without any leftover and donate to poorer sections of the society while accepting the reality that the current crisis will end someday. He also called upon people to remain in positive attitude all the time by keeping fit and healthy so that the fight against COVID-19 could succeed.
On the other hand, the RIMS professor said people already suffering from mental illness need not worry for medicines and emergency treatment and mental counselling can be done through toll free online number and telephone number.

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