Manipulating CORONAVIRUS’s adverse effects for the benefit of Humanity -A Psychologist’s perspective
Dr. Deepthi Balla
B.Sc., M.Ed., M.A.Psy.,Ph.D
Visakha Govt. Degree & P.G.College for Women
I entitled the article as ‘ Manipulating CORONAVIRUS for the benefit of Humanity and Earth -A Psychologist’s perspective ‘ for with the presentation of this article, I want to throw light into the present CORONAVIRUS scenario that is directly assaulting the psyche of the humanity and also want to illuminate a resilient perspective to tackle the CORONAVIRUS effectively for our benefit.
CORONAVIRUS at first when is introduced to the world through News papers and online mass-media, it was thought as a form of influenza which would not affect people living in high temperature Regions of the world. Its spread proved it wrong. So intellectuals of the world are now focusing on what to do in order to ‘fight against’ it. It is wise not to fight it with known weapons as virus is already got accustomed to these and evolving into different unknown forms.
CORONAVIRUS’s bulls eye on Psychological arena of humanity:
Here I mentioned Bulls eye because, Bulls eye is the foci of the target object. So COVID is able to reach it efficiently in the first go itself.
The following are the observations of by research as the immediate psychological effects of CORONAVIRUS on people
From the article by Betty Pfefferbaum, and Carol S. North ( 2020) , I have selected four points which i am elaborating with my daily observations
- Dread and fear, possibility of PTSD of contamination of the disease.
Even a sneeze due to dust or spicy tadka in the preparation of curry is causing an alarm in the observer or the bystanders. During the telecommunication process of contacting others the Government is dutifully notifying its citizens of the symptoms of CORONAVIRUS and whom to contact in such situations. This though may have educated people about the pandemic, but arising doubts about every small biological defense processes such as sneeze, even rashes on body due to allergy. Psychologically people are now showing obsessive compulsive symptoms of washing their hands for every minute due to the fear of contamination. People perceived that this is a moderate to severe stressful situation and preventive techniques like handwashing and wearing masks seems to suppress these psychological disturbances (Mustafa, Nasir. 2020).
- Concerns about finances as some fear of losing their jobs.
Concerns are the psychological phenomena where people think and manipulate their perceptions which amplify their inability to achieve something they want to acquire. CORONAVIRUS successfully achieved it as people became victim to these concerns. Finances are very difficult to live with their shortage. Propaganda that grocery will not be available from ” tomorrow on wards” or “from next month” are making people panic. To buy a month’s worth of grocery ahead is making people become panic about present and future alike. Now the news of ousting software employees in USA and the discussion programs in the news channels are making people dread more in every country that is effected by CORONAVIRUS. There are more fearsome rumours the authenticity of which must be made by the Government itself. It is that the economy of India (or any country take for instance) is crashed and now no new employment is possible. Psychologically it lead to the development of Hopelessness in the Unemployed who are waiting for new recruitments.
- Emotional Distress in both health care individuals and non-health care individuals regarding the recovery of patients and their own safety.
It is reported that most of the Doctors are expressing concerns over lack of masks, are witnessing deaths of the CORONAVIRUS affected patients with dismay and hopelessness due to lack of proper medication to target the virus. Moreover, they too have fears of sustaining their own lives. Para-medcial staff who are the first to diagnose the condition, like Lab Technicians too had such strain on their psyche. In one study done by Zhenyu Li, et al.,(2020), they have found that non-frontline nurses and general public were more traumatized than front line nurses and doctors. Stress and anxiety scores were more among non-medical health care workers like “allied health professionals, pharmacists, technicians, administrators, clerical staff, and maintenance workers (Tan BY, Chew NW, Lee GK, et al., 2020)..
- Lack of sufficient Diagnostic Equipment and exact medication.
Till mid of last month APRIL 2020, Andhra Pradesh Govt., had to toil to import the test kits which are helpful in diagnosing CORONAVIRUS. The problem here is with Governments financial state, the identification of the medical kit available resource state or country and financial transaction deals between both the parties. The perception that there is no diagnostic equipment in the hospitals made people panic.
There is another concern which is not shown in the literature but observed in the public is that public developed a conscious to not to reveal that they had some symptoms which resemble CORONAVIRUS with the spread of news like those who accompany with the CORONAVIRUS affected will also be put in quarantine; those who are diseased due to CORONAVIRUS, their bodies are not shown to their parents even.
In view of the uncertainty of the reasons behind the disease to spread and lack of exact medication that could target and kill the virus, WHO has provided some management strategies to the common public :
Table 1: WHO guidelines to general population
|1 COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries, in many geographical locations. When referring to people with COVID-19, do not attach the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected, in and from any country. People who are affected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion and kindness.
2. Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19’S families” or “the diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, and after recovering from COVID-19 their life will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones. It is important to separate a person from having an identity defined by COVID-19, in order to reduce stigma.
3. Minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources and mainly so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not rumours and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals from the WHO website and local health authority platforms in order to help you distinguish facts from rumours. Facts can help to minimize fears.
4. Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the helper. For example, check by telephone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance. Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing COVID-19 together.
5. Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19. For example, stories of people who have recovered or who have supported a loved one and are willing to share their experience.
6. Honour carers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community. Acknowledge the role they play in saving lives and keeping your loved ones safe.
The above table contains information from © World Health Organization 2020. Some rights reserved. This work is available under the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO licence. Kindly observe the copyright code here. (“Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak”, 2020)
Apart from the above, I have observed that people are told to stay at home which caused an alarm to them. For some time people listened to it but the quarantine has both positive and negative psychological effects. A comparative study on Spanish and Italy parents regarding their children’s mental health during quarantine, the parents expressed that “difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), feelings of loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%), (Orgilés, Mireia & Morales, Alexandra & Delvecchio, Elisa & Mazzeschi, Claudia & Espada, Jose. 2020)”. In short quarantine lead to psychological disturbances such as “post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and behavioural disorders. Predisposing factors include staying away from family, loneliness, misinformation on social media, financial insecurity and stigmatization. (Sood, Sadhika, 2020)”
CORONAVIRUS lead to the shutdown of streets, industries, offices, shopping, movie halls and majorly all public educational and law houses. More BPO and IT software professionals are working from Home (Shelly Singh, 2020). But consider the psychological toll on the one who had to take care of all of the family members. Even teachers are instructed to work from home. They have to prepare lessons, activities and deliver these in various online platforms like zoom. House environment which is supposed to give relaxation to the working people, is now became a prison. For school and college students whose exams are not yet conducted are feeling physiological symptoms of stress a lot (Joyce Lee, 2020).
Now looking at the positive aspects, we can manipulate CORONAVIRUS adverse effects for our benefit.
CORONAVIRUS brought the following good changes in Humanity
- Understanding of the gifts of nature that we have so far used abundantly but without respecting them.
- Understanding that every creature in the world has its own right to live. To kill them unnecessarily for food satiety would as a chain reaction come back to the eater itself.
- Due to LOCK DOWN people are not producing any air pollution. So environment is at ease for the time being.
- Family relationships bloomed as quality of time spending with each other became possible. Sharing of housework is now considered manly.
- Focus on one’s own spirituality and daily meditation became possible. In one study it was found that Nurses who had Islamic culture, due to their belief that Allah controls everything, were less affected by the pandemic.( Jiang, Mengyao & Li, Siyan & She, Dongli & Yan, Fanghong & Chung, Yuet & Han, Lin., 2020). LOCKDOWN TIME made it possible that everyone in hopelessness of the situation is turning to GOD and are courageously living their lives adhering to quarantine levied by the GOVT.
- Humanitarian and philanthropic activities have increased tremendously than ever.
Actions to utilize the quarantine time effectively which could boost your mental health:
- Sleep 8 hours a day. It gives your body to host mindful activities.
- Eat whatever natural foods available to you that can boost your immunity.
- List out your incomplete wishes or dreams that you were not able to finish due to your office schedules.
- List out the issues which you felt once that you couldnot achieve due to lack time and are challenging. Now face those challenges.
- Give food to your mind early in the morning starting with prayer then breakfast and then do a puzzle like sudoku or any other challenging task.
- Write a list of your positive points which you felt and also you have heard others say that these are your strengths. Use them by putting a target to complete in a specific time period and achieve it.
- Those of you who are students of any level, you can increase your skill set by doing more courses in edX, SWAYAM, coursera etc. These will demand your attention and time. By the time you do complete all these, you will notice that the lock down time has just gone away in a jiffy and you will wish you had more time like this with you.
CORONAVIRUS though dangerous to our lives had provided us with many precious moments provided we can utilize the opportunities it gave us we will transform to be blessing to all.
Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D., and Carol S. North, M.D., M.P.E.(2020). Mental Health and the CORONAVIRUS Pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2008017
Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the CORONAVIRUS outbreak. (2020). Retrieved 1 May 2020, from https://www.who.int/publications-detail/WHO-2019-nCoV-MentalHealth-2020.1WHO/2019-nCoV/MentalHealth/2020.1
Zhenyu Li, et al.,(2020) Vicarious traumatization in the general public, members, and non-members of medical teams aiding in CORONAVIRUS control. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2020.03.007
Singh. S (2020), companies see work from home as a viable long term option if regulatory issues can be addressed-The Economic Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020 from https://m.economictimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/companies-see-work-from-home-as-a-viable-long-term-option-if-regulatory-issues-can-be-addressed/articleshow/74985839.cms
Joyce . Lee (2020). Mental health effects of school closures during CORONAVIRUS. Retrieved 1 May 2020 from www.thelancet.com/child-adolescent Published online April 14, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30109-7
Tan BY, Chew NW, Lee GK, et al., (2020). Psychological Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Health Care Workers in Singapore. Annals of Internal Medicine; [Epub ahead of print 6 April 2020]. doi: https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-1083
Orgilés, Mireia & Morales, Alexandra & Delvecchio, Elisa & Mazzeschi, Claudia & Espada, Jose. (2020). Immediate psychological effects of the COVID-19 quarantine in youth from Italy and Spain. 10.31234/osf.io/qaz9w.
Sood, Sadhika. (2020). Psychological Effects of the Coronavirus Disease-2019 Pandemic. RHIME. 7. 23-26.
Jiang, Mengyao & Li, Siyan & She, Dongli & Yan, Fanghong & Chung, Yuet & Han, Lin. (2020). The Psychological Effect of 2019 Coronavirus Disease Outbreak on Nurses Living in Islamic Culture Dominant Region, China. 10.21203/rs.3.rs-18075/v1.
Mustafa, Nasir. (2020). Psychological Stress and Associated Factors during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). 10.13140/RG.2.2.21652.24969.