TIRUCHY: The second wave of Covid-19 has not only claimed the lives of a lot of people, but also created a strong negative impact on the mental health of people.
The fear of receiving bad news has led to many of them hating the very idea of answering a phone call.
Charubala hates picking up her phone nowadays as she had been hearing the news of some of her kin or friends dying, almost every day. She jumps in fear every time phone rings.
"My entire family tested positive last year, but we all recovered. Now, one by one, we are losing many of our relatives and friends. Even the news of those unknown to me dying is kind of affecting me. It makes me wonder how many more lives this dreaded virus is going to claim," says Charubala.
It is not that only those who contracted the virus this year are stressed. Even those who are not affected are also going through a lot of trauma.
For instance, Pudukkottai district, which had set up a dedicated counselling line, has reportedly received 54,000 calls in the past year. People with or without Covid have been calling, says District Mental Health Officer Dr Karthik Deivanayagam.
"A lot of bargaining and rationalisation happens, especially when a father or mother, who play the role of caretakers/breadwinners of a family, show symptoms of Covid. They are afraid what might happen if they get admitted to the hospital, and lose their life. So, they rationalise they may not have Covid and put off a test. This leads to delay in seeking treatment," he explains.
Doctors are calling it illness-related or Covid-related anxiety. A case in point is Dr Karthik (30), who stays close to a big hospital in the city. During the entire month of May, he couldn't sleep or concentrate on work, thanks to continuous sound of ambulance sirens. He says he could even count the number of ambulances that pulled up. Staying away from his family, he would worry about them contracting infection.
"Even when they are safe, people are afraid of how they would take care of their loved ones, should they get Covid. We keep reading about uncommon events on social media. There is fear of disease and fear of losing our loved ones," says Karthik.
The Pudukkottai district helpline calls Covid patients to check their mental health after they test positive. Many a times, it is the family members who contact them, says Karthik.
It is essential to seek help, say psychologists. Says Chitra, a psychologist, "Everyone is going through some problem now. They are worried about jobs, family and health. There is extreme uncertainty as no one knows what will happen tomorrow. People are already worried about the third wave. People must seek help for their mental health, just like their physical health."