Mental Health: In Times of COVID-19

mental health

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Utku Timurçin, a 4th year medical student and a public health advocate. 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.

Starting in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019, COVID-19 has been a worldwide threat. After the cases increased in China, WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This meant that a situation is raised somewhere in the world, quickly spreading inside a certain border and has a big potential to spread outside of that border too. What we saw with COVID-19 was that it spread firstly in South Asia and then started to appear in other continents too. Hence, WHO declared a pandemic on 12nd March of 2020.

Within these unexpected, uncertain, unknown circumstances, we faced misinformation, heard stigmas all around the media. There were strict quarantine measures, first starting with forbidding mass gatherings, closing the schools/workplaces, then ending up with curfew, not leaving our houses… all of these affected our mental health; created anxiety and worry, worsened on-going mental illnesses and felt the despair.

WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Most of the time we tend to neglect the effect of mental health to our daily routine. However, within these circumstances, it may have a more burden than we think.

What can we do to reduce this burden? How can we be most effective in our daily quarantine lives?

There are several things that we can do to lessen the burden of COVID-19 as individuals. First of all, start with accepting the situation you face. We can’t predict when exactly this situation will end. That’s why we all have anxiety and fear and that is NORMAL.

After accepting where you are, reach out to your family, friends and loved ones! You may not go outside to meet them but that doesn’t mean that you can’t organize an online meeting to talk, share and laugh, right?

Watch your favorite episodes from your favorite series! This will help you remember the feelings that you felt at the first time that you watched it.

Start your day with an exercise! All the big sport brands are training live from Youtube or Instagram. Starting your day with a high dose endorphin will help you get through your day at maximum energy.

Read something that you have always wanted! We all love novels because they are easy to read in our daily working/studying lives. How about reading a literary classic, it may be a good time to dig into some big writers.

And finally, there are professional healthcare workers that help with mental health issues during these days. You don’t have to be diagnosed or anything. If you are not feeling well, it is always welcomed to approach them to get help. (more information can be found in health ministers from countries)

There is no health without a good, maintained mental health. We all face different circumstances and emotions during these days. It is our responsibility to stay as strong as possible.

About the author

Utku Timurçin is a 4th year medical student and a public health advocate. Member of Turkish Medical Students Associations’, National Member Organization for International Federation of Medical Students Associations. He has been working in IFMSA SCOME field for the past 4 year to address medical education problems, challenges and raise
awareness in order to access better quality of education and its benefits to our public health.

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