Mental health in midst of a pandemic: can we help?

2020 depressed

(Engin Akyurt, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Elisa Torquato, a second year medical student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


A rising topic on media, and a concerning issue on a post-modern society, the discussion about mental health has been increasing exponentially, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing, financial struggles, loss of loved ones, and shortage of health resources may cause profound mental distress. In a matter of fact, disasters such as the above have been thoroughly associated with a significantly higher prevalence of psychological disorders and a wide array of mental and emotional afflictions. Therefore, hospitals and universities have been offering psychosocial services for health care providers in the frontline and for the general population. However, a important question arises: how can we, as individuals, collaborate to improve the mental health of others and our own?

The answer to this query is not simple, and to start reflecting about it one must reminisce on an ancient greek aphorism: “know thyself”. But what does it truly mean? The understanding of the human nature and, thus, human behaviour lies within the wise use of introspection. Looking inwards and accepting our emotions and fears as an natural response is imperative to deeply comprehend and help others. So, the knowledge of one’s true self is crucial to perceive differences and similarities between the ‘me’ and the ‘other’, and has a major influence on how we socialize.

Nevertheless, it is very important to use that acknowledgement of yourself to develop empathy and compassion towards others, instead of developing a egocentric cognitive bias. That way, we can focus on preventing mental distress, by assessing the mental and emotional state of friends, relatives and acquaintances; involving in purposeful activities; and perhaps even promoting mental health awareness on social media. Besides, in a globalized world, it is essential not to fall into the trap of constantly seeking pandemic-related news, and, thus, experiencing an overload of information, which can increase anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, Psychological First Aid has been recommended by many specialists, including WHO, after traumatic events – much like the Covid-19 pandemic. What is interesting about such method is that it is not necessarily conducted by health care workers, and it can be used by common people to support others in times of needs. Its strategy basically consists of three steps: (1) listening, for that we have to remain calm and patient, and show empathy and comprehension by not judging one’s feelings and emotions; (2) assisting, by encouraging healthy behaviours and habits, elucidating possible doubts and supporting actions that lead to their recovery, such as seeking for professional help; and (3) connecting, to the person who is suffering, and stimulating them to deepen their bonds with loved ones. These steps are not meant to be strict rules, but rather recommendations on how to improve our relationships in midst of our current situation. What we must do right now is remembering an quote attributed to Mother Teresa: “sometimes we feel that what we do is nothing but a drop of water in the sea. But the sea would be smaller if it lacked a drop.

About the author

Elisa Torquato is a second year medical student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, and a member of International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA BRAZIL). She has been involved in multiple initiatives in health care, especially in the field of health awareness and education.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

These are the countries best prepared for health emergencies

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by Black doctors, suggests new study

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Here are five things to know about the future of being human

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Here’s what I learned at Davos 2020

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

5 priorities for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Copyright: MEPs update rules for the digital age

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

I created a class to teach zero waste. It turned into so much more

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

‘Our goal is to democratize the air.’ How aerial transportation will shape cities of the future

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Celebrating Gaston Ramon – the vet who discovered vaccinology’s secret weapon

2 trillion drinks containers are made every year – so where do they go?

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

There are 3 barriers blocking good menstrual hygiene for all women. Here’s how we overcome them

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s