After the first wave peaked in September last, it took about six months for cases to rise from about 6 million to cross 12 million by the end of March in India. In last month alone, India reported more than 6.6 million cases as the cumulative total rose to 18.76 million. Deaths due to the virus are also rising to record limits daily with 3,689 fatalities, highest in a single day logged in the last 24 hours as per the Health Ministry data on Sunday. Jammu and Kashmir also recorded 44662 infections and 285 fatalities in April. In the first two days of May, 88 people have succumbed to the virus, taking the official fatality count so far to 2370. These figures suggest that contagion is only raging on and shows no signs of relenting.
This situation amid constant struggle for many to find hospital beds, medicines and oxygen are affecting the mental well-being of people, as per several mental health experts. The mental health situation, as per them is much worse now than last year during the first Covid-19 wave.
The present wave has been much more relentless and took many by surprise because it came just as people felt things were returning to normal. A number of people also feel culpable for not being able to support those around them adequately while a large population is yet to recover from fiscal and personal losses of last year. Together, these factors are gravely impacting people’s confidence, and resilience to cope with situations. The present round of the pandemic is also bound to impact the vulnerable sections more since they have much less access to mental health professionals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) two years ago estimated that 7.5% of Indians were affected by mental health disorders. This number will likely go up significantly because of the contemporary situation.
Last month, the Divisional Administration in Kashmir started tele–Psychiatric and Psychological services to dispel off stress, fear and anxiety among the people during the ongoing pandemic.
The purpose of the counselling, as per official statement, is to illuminate the people currently in home situation, guide about precautions, maintaining Covid behaviour and precautions besides assisting the general public in living a healthy life during the pandemic.
It is a welcome development but needs to be ensured. Rather more needs to be done to address the grave situation. The failure threatens to claim a heavy toll when the government has been cornered and questioned for being under-prepared to tackle a health crisis.