Amid pandemic detours, mental health matters

mental health covid

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Hope Ezra Mukwinda, a female Zambian medical student aged 22. 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.

According to the world health organization (WHO), mental health is defined as ‘a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his/her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his/her community’. Clearly WHO stresses that mental health is not just the absence of a mental DISORDER!

So from the horrors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the after math of hurricane Katrina, we recognize that catastrophic events can leave indelible marks on the mind. Research ultimately shows that the impact is actually far greater on children than it is on adults. Environmental influences can shape critical decisions, which in turn affect later choices and, ultimately, who we turn out to be. Today the entire world is facing a pandemic (COVID-19) causing rapidly increasing morbidities as well as mortalities, throwing everyone old or young into states of panic and anxiety, unfortunate for others ending in suicide. This article focuses on what an individual can do to lessen the burden.

As it is, everyone seems to have some “sort of information” regarding COVID-19, information that has the capacity to aggravate anxiety or panic in people as well as information that can help calm and give hope to people. In such situations it is only appropriate that as an individual you get the relevant right proof backed information, as this helps to put one’s cognitive functions in check.

The “use it or lose it” theory i.e what you don’t use you tend to lose, in this case has to be taken seriously. Every individual is gifted with creativity in one or more fields and most people are yet to unlock their full potential in these fields, therefore, I advise that during the lockdown and quarantine period individuals self-engage in different creatives in order to sway any form of anxiety or panic that can in turn lead to mental health disorders and in worst case scenarios, suicide.

Mastery of emotional intelligence is one of the core important aspects in any environment that desires to be productive. After all, the human brain is the organ that mediates all emotions, thought and behavior. Negative emotions often make things even more memorable than Positive ones because recalling things that are threatening and avoiding those situations in the future if possible is often critical to survival. Our brains are naturally pulled to make sense of trauma in a way that allows us to become tolerant to it, to mentally shift the traumatic experience from one in which we are completely helpless to one we have some mastery.

Fear is our most primal emotion, and with good evolutionary reason. Without it few of our ancestors would have survived. Fear literally arises from the core of our brain, affecting all brain areas and their functions in rapidly expanding waves of neurochemical activity. Fear if fed grows into a self-destruction tool but if starved one tends to positively contribute to his/her community and world at large.

About the author

Hope Ezra Mukwinda is a a female Zambian citizen aged 22. Clinical sciences general graduate from the Zambian royal medical university, certificate holder in psychosocial counselling and HIV/AIDS management from the university of Zambia and currently enrolled with Alison online classes pursuing a diploma in mental health. She worked as a volunteer clinical officer at riverside clinic in Kitwe, Zambia for 5 months, later started working as a volunteer HIV/AIDS and TB clinician at John snow Inc. in Kitwe, Zambia for 6 months. She is a Christian blogger @crownsinthefurnace blog and a part time poet.

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