The covid-19 pandemic challenged the health infrastructure, adversely impacted livelihoods and exacerbated the inequality in the food and nutritional availability across India. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception.
There is also a lot of anxiety created by COVID-19 and it has taken a toll on mental health and parents, teachers, students, businessmen and other members of society were affected alike.
As the covid-19 pandemic lingered, there were reports about people suffering from increased stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, denial, anger, and fear due to varied reasons including due to isolation, loss of loved ones, economic uncertainty and the fear of contracting the disease.
There have been added pressures. For example for parents, the financial instability coupled with the stress of work from home, for some, and caring for the family added to anxiety. Teachers and students faced the compounded effect of balancing responsibilities at home with navigating an unfamiliar online school environment with 2G internet speed.
As per an expert, nearly half of patients do not have any history of mental illness and despite the lifting of lockdowns; the number of cases remained largely the same.
Without any doubt, the lives got disrupted, livelihoods of the people hit, or even destroyed due to the covid-19. The pandemic aggravated the situation, leaving those having such issues to struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from what is basically and undeniable a disease which to a large extent is curable. What makes the challenge more difficult is stereotypes and prejudice such people face purely as a result of misconceptions about mental illness. As a result, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life—good jobs, satisfactory health care, and association with a diverse group of people.
The people having mental illness not only face the public stigma which is the reaction that the general population has towards them but also self-stigma which is defined as the prejudice which they turn against themselves.
Unless services are available, addressing the mental issues would remain distant.
Let alone Jammu and Kashmir, all states and UTs across India spends little on mental health care. Against World Health Organization norms, the mental health personnel remains paltry, to say the least.
There are structural shortcomings that need finances and infrastructure to overcome. The covid-19 has reemphasized the criticality of having institutions and mechanisms that can facilitate Jammu and Kashmir to absorb exogenous shocks well.