The “Global prevalence and burden of depressive and anxiety disorders in 204 countries and territories in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic” study, published in Lancet public health, estimated an increase of about 35 per cent in the prevalence of anxiety and depression in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. The covid-19 cases have waned down substantially but the issues related to anxiety and depression needs to be addressed.
The more things are supposed to change the more they remain the same. Public health experts have repeatedly said that there is a manifold increase in mental health cases amid the virulent disease with many attributing the rising stress and anxiety levels to isolation, loss of loved ones, economic uncertainty and the fear of contracting the disease.
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 a doubt, the lives have been disrupted, livelihoods of the people hurt, or even destroyed due to the pandemic. As a consequence, evidently, there is anxiety, fear, stress, and trauma.
The pandemic has surely 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 from 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 prejudice which they turn against themselves.
The administration needs to create the infrastructure and create awareness about the availability of the services. There is a need for improving access to preventive and curative mental services for all including adolescents.