“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.
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.