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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 24-42

COVID-19 pandemic and emotional health: Social psychiatry perspective

Professor of Psychiatry (Retired) Formerly, Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. R Srinivasa Murthy
553,16th Cross, J.P.Nagar 6rth Phase, Bangalore-560078, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_293_20

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge to humanity. It is not only a health crisis but also a social crisis. As in the case of past pandemics, life, as we know, is unlikely to be the same after we come out of the pandemic. There will be changes at the level of individuals, families, communities, states, nations, international relationships, and the way all of us will deal with a range of human and environmental situations. Disasters are always associated with increased rates of emotional health needs from distress to specific disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, and the vulnerabilities are associated with the way society is organized. Past experiences have shown psychosocial interventions, ranging from self-care, psychological first aid, school interventions, counseling, social support and formal psychiatric care can minimize the emotional health impact of disasters. These activities can be initiated by individuals, paraprofessionals, and professionals. In addition, there is an important role for social–economic interventions such as provision of food, healthcare, shelter, protection from harm, and relocation/rehabilitation. Spiritual resources are an important part of coping with the pandemic. An emerging area of disaster psychiatry is the possibility of posttraumatic growth and facilitating of community resilience. There is sufficient evidence, from the past, of major societal level changes, following pandemics, in healthcare, education, welfare, governance, and citizen–government relationships along with relationships across countries. The psychosocial interventions, with survivors of disasters, should be to promote mental health and prevent mental disorders and care of persons with mental disorders involving the individuals, families, communities, and the government. The pandemic also offers opportunities for understanding and addressing of the risk factors for mental health and factors contributing to resilience of individuals and communities. The current pandemic presents challenges and opportunities for the Indian Association for Social Psychiatry.

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