Mental health and Covid-19.

HOWEVER high the numbers of coronavirus patients, the pandemic is exacting a mental toll on far more people, and its effects will linger for much longer. Most individuals, to some extent or the other, thrive on social interaction; enforced seclusion is not conducive to emotional health. Compounding the feelings of loneliness is the anxiety over lost livelihoods and the prospect of financial ruin, the fear of infection (asymptomatic spreaders causing the most panic) and of losing loved ones, and, above all, the bleak open-endedness of it. Judging by the figures, Covid-19 has not even come close to peaking in Pakistan. For all the back and forth in official quarters about relaxing the lockdowns or tightening them further, none can predict when this state of siege will be over. There is the pandemic in the present, and ahead of us, a void.

It is a situation that would test the strongest among us, let alone those more vulnerable to depression, paranoia and suicidal tendencies. Indeed, the very real psychological fallout of the pandemic has been recognised, in a manner of speaking, by the Ministry of Human Rights. On Friday, it issued guidelines for people to care for the mental health of others in this historic time. Some of these suggestions include avoiding the association of any race, ethnicity or religion with the virus, not spreading misinformation or stigmatising those who contract Covid-19, and refraining from creating panic. The guidelines include a helpline number that can be called by anyone that suspects someone they know is suffering from any form of...

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