What can each individual do to lessen the burden of mental health in times of the pandemic?

depressed 2020

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Taha Abdullah Zain Bahumaid, a medical student at the Faculty of Medicine, Hadhramout University, Mukalla, Yemen. He 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.


Pandemics are health emergencies in which human life is threatened and there are significant numbers of sick and dead. Local resources are generally overburdened, and community’s safety and normal functioning are threatened. As a result, outside assistance is urgently needed. But, as with other catastrophic events, pandemics are far from being just medical phenomena. They disrupt personal and professional lives severely and affect people and societies on several levels. As coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps across the world, it is causing widespread concern, fear and stress, so it is common for everyone to experience increased levels of distress and anxiety, particularly as a result of social isolation. Physicians and other frontline health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they strive to balance the duty of caring for patients with concerns about their own well-being and that of their family and friends.

The key strategies promoted for containment of an outbreak of this nature are isolation and physical distancing – both can have significant impacts on our life and relationships. So, everyone must take care of themselves and others, keeping in touch with friends and family and finding time for leisure activities. Follow WHO and government health agency recommendation. Pay attention to your own needs, feelings and thoughts. Maintain adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise patterns and practice meditation.

Monitor yourself for symptoms of depression/stress disorder such as prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories and/or feelings of hopelessness. Tell someone when you experience symptoms of sadness or anxiety. Be open to seeking professional help if symptoms persist or worsen over time. Understand that stress and fear are normal in unknown situations. Avoid confusing the solitude of preventive confinement with abandonment, rejection or helplessness.

Limit physical contact with other people while avoiding emotional distance. Take breaks from the news and social media. Limit exposure to pandemic-related news, since too much information can trigger anxiety disorders and make a regular habit of stepping away from your computer and smartphone from time to time. Do not disseminate information from unofficial sources. You don’t have to take in everything produced by a 24/7 news cycle.

Remind yourself that despite the current challenges and frustrations, yours is a noble calling – taking care of those in need in a time of great uncertainty. Assist as much as possible in risk groups. Share contamination prevention information and instructions.

Make sure to take time to recognize the efforts and sacrifices made by your colleagues.  Together, we are all stronger.

About the author

Taha Abdullah Zain Bahumaid is a medical student at the Faculty of Medicine, Hadhramout University, Mukalla, Yemen. He is a Local officer of the Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE) in National Associations of Medical Students (NAMS) – Yemen and a member in Seiyun Forum University Students and CFA Health Forum.

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  1. […] This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Taha Abdullah Zain Bahumaid, a medical student at the Faculty of Medicine, Hadhramout University, Mukalla, Yemen. He 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 […]Read More […]

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