Taking care in times of social isolation goes beyond washing hands or wearing masks

washing hands

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Victor Araújo Rabelo, a 22 year old medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. 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.

In times of pandemic, it is known that all people must protect themselves through anti-sepsis measures, such as, washing hands, wearing masks, cleaning objects and keeping the distance between people. However, this is not so simple and it is not enough for some people. Social isolation (the main way to stop a pandemic) is the cause of great mental stress for many people. Therefore, we notice that ‘staying immune’ to a wave of factors that erode mental health, goes far beyond hand washing or wearing masks.

During the past few days, the world has been experiencing a moment of paralysis of activities. This has generated several concerns, especially with the economy and health services. Indeed, these concerns are important, nevertheless, they have left the issue of mental health in the background.

People with mental illness naturally carry a ‘burden on the backs’ in their daily lives. Sometimes this ‘burden’ is relatively light and it is possible to be dealt with. At other times, however, it becomes too heavy when stressful situations reflect over it. This is usually observed during social isolation, because a different routine is imposed on the person, preventing them from doing their own activities, such as physical exercises and walking.

The impact on mental health happens more aggressively on vulnerable people, for example, those who either have a mental disorder or are elderly. In this last group, it is possible to observe the fear and insecurity of being away from their families or caregivers, in addition to a greater concern related to death, mainly because they are the main risk group.

In the face of all this, it is necessary for us to empathize with people who suffer from these pandemic times. Simple measures to help them are extremely important. Formulating a schedule with daily activities helps to keep the mind running. Besides, it is possible to include in this schedule, moments to exercise and relax at home to promote the proper functioning of the body and mind, since it is known that physical activities help to promote the releasing of innumerable endogenous substances (endorphins) capable of improving our mood and this is extremely important.

Moreover, it is possible that we can use social networks in a way that helps everyone. The first point is not to trust suspicious information (‘fake-news’), as it can cause anguish and anxiety. The second point is to use social networks to get closer to friends and family.

Only through solidarity and empathy will we be able to overcome this difficult moment. It is up to us to take care of ourselves and hope that all this will pass as quickly as possible. So #stayhome #staysafe.


  1. World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public; online publication; 2020; accessed in April 25, 2020; available in: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
  2. Ornell Felipe, Schuch Jaqueline B., Sordi Anne O., Kessler Felix Henrique Paim. “Pandemic fear” and COVID-19: mental health burden and strategies. Braz. J. Psychiatry  [Internet]. [cited  2020  Apr  25]. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-44462020005008201&lng=en.  In press  2020.  Epub Apr 03, 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2020-0008.
  3. World Health Organization: Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak; 2020.
  4. United Nations Development Programme: COVID-19 pandemic: Humanity needs leadership and solidarity to defeat the coronavirus; online publication; 2020; accessed in April 25, 2020; available in: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/coronavirus.html

About the author

Victor Araújo Rabelo is 22 years old medical student. He is currently in the fourth year of Medicine at UniCesumar, Brazil, working as Local Communication and Marketing Director at IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar and Minicourses Coordinator of the Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center. Moreover, he is a member of the Intensive Care League, Surgery League and Medical Clinic League.

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

Qualcomm to be the next target of EU antitrust regulators? China might be the answer

France breaks budget promises once again and the EU’s finance offices are shaking

COVID-19 shows why we must build trust in digital financial services

Amazon: our green is turning to ashes

EP President praises Nobel Peace Prize award to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

Suriname’s climate promise, for a sustainable future

Medical students: catalysts to close the gender gap

As people return to work, here’s how we can make commuting more inclusive and sustainable

Safety fits into our palms: The role of mobile technology in healthcare systems and life saving

Keep Africa’s guns ‘from firing in the first place’, UN political chief urges

Algorithmic warfare is coming. Humans must retain control

Paris, Rome, Brussels and Frankfurt to confront Berlin over growth and the Athens enigma

How the institutional response to COVID-19 can prepare us for climate change

Germany is turning its old mines into tourist hotspots

Turkey’s Erdogan provokes the US and the EU by serving jihadists and trading on refugees

Yemen bus attack just the latest outrage against civilians: UN agencies

We need to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. This is how we can do it

Friday’s Daily Brief: UN chief in China, counter-terrorism, updates from Bangladesh, Mali and Mozambique

7 steps to becoming a ‘CEO Academy’

Merkel refuses to consider the North-South schism of Eurozone

Coronavirus: Commission adopts new exceptional support measures for the wine sector

MEPs vote for upgrade to rail passenger rights

Juncker and Tusk killed Greece on 07 July 2015 to meet the Commission’s summer vacation plan? #Grexit #Greferendum #Graccident

‘Protracted crisis’ in Venezuela leads to ‘alarming escalation of tensions’: UN political chief

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties exceed 10,000 for sixth straight year

A letter from Italy: Our insecurity in COVID-19 times

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

Women still struggle to find a job, let alone reach the top: new UN report calls for ‘quantum leap’

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

European Commission statement on the adoption of the new energy lending policy of the European Investment Bank Group

A challenge for inclusion in the Dominican Republic’s health care services

There is no recipe for a healthy mental state

Outbreaks and pandemics periods can be stressful, but how can we turn it to a positive life-changing experience?

International World Summit Award calls for outstanding digital applications with impact on society from 178 UN member states

China greenlights first underwater high-speed railway

Three out of the past five Julys were the hottest on record

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Commitments Made to Reduce Black Carbon, Methane and HFCs

Medical workforce migration in Europe – Is it really a problem?

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

European Parliament speaks out against “killer robots”

10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, UN food relief agency calls for ‘unhindered access’ to frontline regions

These are India’s cleanest cities

EU Border and Coast Guard: new corps of 10 000 border and coast guards by 2027

7 lessons leaders should take from the COVID-19 crisis

We won’t win the online security war without people power

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page

Q&A on extraordinary remote participation procedure

EU Elections: new rules to prevent breaches of data used to influence elections

Mining the deep seabed will harm biodiversity. We need to talk about it

Congolese expelled from Angola returning to ‘desperate situation’: UN refugee agency

In West Africa, UN Security Council visits Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau

JADE President opens JADE Spring Meeting 2014

Commission welcomes the political agreement on the transitional rules for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Cameroon: Clear ‘window of opportunity’ to solve crises rooted in violence – Bachelet

The EU Commission fails to draw the right conclusions about corruption

How youth and technology can drive Africa’s COVID-19 response

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

How to change the world at Davos

5 ways to get your business ready for AI in 2020

UN, global health agencies sound alarm on drug-resistant infections; new recommendations to reduce ‘staggering number’ of future deaths

More Stings?


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