Sanity in times of COVID-19

sane

(Lesly Juarez, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Lesley Roks, a fourth year medical student working as Local Supervisory Counselor (L-SupCo) in IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar. 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.


In times of pandemic, looking for the word “balance” in the dictionary has become a chore. Accurate neologisms are created to deal with situations that require emotions to be tamed once and for all. Based on that, and as a medical student, I wonder: is the human being really able to redefine health, since it tries to maintain a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in complete chaos and distance from others?

It’s extremely important to bring up historical facts that demonstrate this is not the first time we deal with a community crisis. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, studies at that time have already reported adverse psychological reactions among the population involved. In line with that, a recent survey involving 1257 respondents revealed a high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms among health professionals who are treating patients with COVID-19 in China. Overall, 50.4%, 44.6%, 34.0% and 71.5% of all participants have reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress, respectively.

That said, before confronting the burden of a pandemic, it’s necessary to consider the obstacles about to arise and realize that human control is limited. This way we have a dimension of what’s within the reach of our contemporary resources, especially technology resources, as tools to overcome tension, such as the implementation of psychological assistance via telephone/internet and counseling applications.

The pandemic has been an anticipator of already underway futures, such as remote working, distance education, and the searching for sustainability and social demand attendance, whose companies are the most responsible for. Meanwhile, other embryonic and little discussed changes are now taking on new meaning. We can score the strengthening of values ​​such as solidarity and empathy. The moment asks, and we have a choice to make: confronting beliefs and making significant changes for the future or simply preserving the status quo?

New references in the defense of life are urgently needed, and as an innate social animal, human being is fully able to adapt realities with his changing power and experience that has been polished over millennia of evolution. No doubts we need to make a paradigm shift. It’s out of respect for each other.

Thus, it’s clear that there are lots of things to do to relieve emotional stress following pandemic effects, such as hobbies, reading and movie marathons. But what needs to be clear is that, as the human species, we have the trigger for change, adaptation and reciprocity inherent in our genetic code, and perhaps for the first time we’re equipped with technology for the common well-being. After all, Nietzsche has already warned chaos shouldn’t be misunderstood as opposing causes and purposes. Chaos is like a dice game, where the possibilities preserve the need of reframing. It waits for the good players, those who know how to contemplate life as a game.

References

  1. Lai J, Ma S, Wang Y, et al. Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(3):e203976. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.3976.
  2. Maunder R, Hunter J, Vincent L, et al. The immediate psychological and occupational impact of the 2003 SARS outbreak in a teaching hospital. CMAJ. 2003;168(10):1245-1251.
  3. World Health Organization. Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 Outbreak. Published March 18, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020. Available in: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf
  4. Clark DA, Beck AT. Overcoming anxiety and the concern about CBT. Porto Alegre: Artmed, 2014.
  5. CALAZANS, Patricia. São Paulo: Matrix, 2017.
  6. GERALDO, AntôPsychiatrist guides how to maintain mental health during the pandemic. TV Brasil.March 24, 2020. Accessed April 20, 2020. Available in: <https://tvbrasil.ebc.com.br/psiquiatra-compartilha-dicas-para-saude-mental-durante-pandemia>
  7. MELO, Clayton. How Coronavirus will change our lives: ten trends for the post-pandemic El País. Published April13, 2020. Accessed April 20, 2020. Available in: <https://brasil.elpais.com/opiniao/2020-04-13/como-o-coronavirus-vai-mudar-nossas-vidas-dez-tendencias-para-o-mundo-pos-pandemia.html&gt;
  8. MEES, Leonardo. Nietzsche and the caos as the general character of world. Revista Ítaca, n. 16. Rio de Janeiro, 2011.

About the author

Lesley Roks is a fourth year medical student working as Local Supervisory Counselor (L-SupCo) in IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar. Skills: responsibility, organization, pro activity and good interpersonal relationships and group work, all developed and improved with the help of her local committee. She is part of three academic leagues: pediatrics, infectology and otorhinolaryngology. She has been very active in the academic life, with many participations in campaigns, student events and scientific projects, especially when there’s the involvement of IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar, in which she participates since her first academic year.

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