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The Pandemic Has Been Taxing For All Of Us, But What Now?

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“The worst part about having a mental illness is… people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”
– Joker (2019)

This is the basic premise on which any discussion on mental health is hinged. Half of the mental health issues would not exist if people were not expected to pretend. Getting accustomed to this ‘new normal’ can actually be very taxing on one’s mental health. Even people who are already addicted to their electronic gadgets are finding it difficult to stay normal amid this lockdown and pandemic.

online classes-girl-student-class-phone
Representational image. Image credit: Getty Images

Amid this pandemic, human beings have finally realized the importance of physical, social interaction or the human touch. Before this virus’ outbreak, all of us wanted and expected everything to happen online for convenience, and to save time and energy. Finally, we have now realized the significance of offline interactions and that of moving around every day. Students and working professionals, sadly, have been severely affected mentally amid this lockdown. Keeping busy, as is often advised to people suffering from mental health issues, is not sufficing in this situation to stay normal and fit.

Not all of us may be suffering from clinical depression per se, but there are many factors that can cause excessive stress and anxiety and thereby affecting the mental health of students and young professionals due to staying home for months together, as well as staying glued to the phone, PC or laptop for long hours. Online classes, online examinations, students being bombarded with classwork, homework, assignments and projects online, and most importantly, poor or slow internet are major issues causing all the frustration and stress suffered especially by Gen Y or millennials during the pandemic.

Apart from these academic pressures, acute peer and parental pressure to perform well, do better, and use time and resources judiciously, is yet another cause of mental stress. Let us remember here that the pandemic has been equally harsh on our parents—be it financial crunch, worries about their own future coupled with issues about academics, and both, employability and employment of their children.

Not to forget all the professionals from different fields who have lost their jobs because of  recession, falling economy or the lockdown. Starting from the entertainment industry to the aviation and the corporate sectors, the lockdown has been a cause of financial distress, which is a prominent reason for mental distress and illness. Losing employment or being unable to provide enough for your family has caused a lot of pain to many.

To top it all, social media and traditional news media have been very toxic and unpleasant to the core all this while. The overall social and political climate of our society has seen too many upheavals in these few months. Constant consumption of negative and saddening information and news about migrant crises, rapes, murders, various human rights crises, scams, and bad laws being passed by the administrative machinery of our country is only making us anxious and cynical and causing us to mistrust all the institutions more and more.

Another section among us that has been badly affected mentally is the elderly. The lockdown has hit hardest upon our old parents and grandparents. Their generation is familiar with only one electronic item, the television, and unlike us, they are not tech-savvy or gadget-dependent. Confined in homes, they are finding it hard to keep themselves occupied like the young. Old and retired people socialize to spend or pass their time often, and the threat of this virus has cursed them with loneliness with nothing left to do.

The situation is even worse for those whose partner or spouse has passed away, or for those who live alone. While we have been ‘protecting’ our elderly from this virus out of our love and concern, all this social distancing has left them feeling isolated and mentally weaker.

All hope, however, is not lost. The lockdown will be lifted soon. Once normalcy will resume. Let us all start valuing each other’s physical presence and interactions more from now on. Let us try to reduce our addiction and dependence on gadgets and spend quality time with each other, and especially with our elderly.

You must be to comment.
  1. Darakhshan Jabeen

    Well written no doubt….this is the condition of every household

    1. YUMNA MOBIN

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Mobin Alrashid

    Dependence on electronic gadget for round the clock updates on the rising no. of deaths & positive cases afflicted with Covid-19, affecting the mental health of netizen & common man alike.
    An indepth analysis of
    Mental Health during pandemic with a positive frame of mind when everyone
    has become a pessimist.

    1. YUMNA MOBIN

      Yes. Agree with you sir. Thank you for your response.

  3. Utpal Dash

    The best thing about your writing is that it’s full of optimism. Only an optimist with positive frame of mind can write about mental health! And you have such beautiful mind and kind heart!

    1. YUMNA MOBIN

      Thank you so much sir, for your kind and encouraging words. Looking forward to more patronage from your end 🙂

  4. Jawaid Siddiqui

    Read your well argumented article. A relevant topic has been selected.This is the best part.You have rightly quoted words in opening remark. Good.
    I expected to get your idea or perception on ‘ New Normal’ which every one of us are enduring these days due to covid 19.
    I expected your solution or views on how to untaxed us following all covid induced restriction imposed. Does Pandemic allow to find an opportunity to ones benefit..
    Few words on this important aspect is definitely needed in your article.
    Otherwise it made a very absorbing reading. I am in agreement with your most your perception in this article.
    Rightly mentioned the plight of old and elderly and role of toxic media in circulating negativity on covid among others.
    pl write something on our GenNext / Gen Y and most nascent Gen Z which are still in school books and how they have deviated from their usual self in these taxing time.

    1. YUMNA MOBIN

      Thank you sir for your valuable feedback. Will keep in mind most of the suggestions you mentioned henceforth, for upcoming articles.

  5. Supriya Kumari

    very nice

  6. Nazrul Huq

    A beautiful article, well thought-out and written. This just goes to show how necessary social intercourse is.
    I have read your other articles too and look forward to seeing you as an accomplished journalist in the near future.

  7. Malay Das

    Analysis & observation on th mental health of th elderly people especially those who lost their spouses sometimes back are absolutely true in this pandemic time. In entirety th article is very well thought and designed meticulously following impact on our life in New Normal. Kudos

  8. Rizwan Hassan Quasmi

    Well written and completely relevant topic as to how the pandemic has affected us physically,mentally and financially. The depleting mental health that was already rising high with the political scenario of this country since the previous year and the early months of this year has now further deteriorated with this lockdown and its affects. The unemployment and the recession has taken a toll on this country already but now with our GDP in the gutter with no chance on quick recovery is another blow that this country is going to endure and the aftermath of all this will drastically change the country in the coming years.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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