According to the survey conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) after consultations with the stakeholders such as the World Bank, UNDP, and WHO concluded that 27.31 million working population was affected. It also suggests that 17.07 million households were affected due to resurgent restrictions to mitigate the chain of COVID-19. This exogenous shock translated into an increase in the unemployment rate and income disparity for urban and rural areas of Pakistan. These statistics highlight the severity of the virus and affect the mental health of individuals.
Coronavirus was first perceived in China in 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March (2020). It spread spirally across the world. The indications are related to extreme respiratory issues including dry hacks, breathing issues, and fever. The situation of lockdown in Pakistan is one of the prime reasons for mental instability which is the domain subject. The process of lockdown was entailed with vigorous social distancing. The government of Pakistan implemented the complete lockdown for three months starting from the end of March to mid of July. Subsequently, it implemented the forms of lockdown such as micro lockdown and smart lockdown to break the chain of infectious viruses.
The report issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics suggested that 83% of the population of Pakistan negate to consult and opt the health care services due to fear of getting infected with the virus. Pandemic simultaneously induced behavioral and routine change in individuals at different levels, it inculcates the symptoms of psychological and psychiatric at the individual level. To break the chain of infection the economies gathered in one umbrella and executed the forms of lockdown. Social distancing, the urged need for vaccinations, and the new normal precaution of wearing masks are all restriction measures employed by different economies.
A need for intervention?
According to the statistics provided by the Worldometer for Pakistan for the period of 25th January (2022), where total confirmed cases of COVID-19 are 1,381,152 and total death cases caused by COVID-19 are29,122. Such developments and information exaggerated mental health issues and dogmas. The prime example was the abrupt change in consumer spending, where individuals were concerned about essential goods such as sanitizers, tissues, and masks.
The period of pre-post COVID-19 evolved the need to reshape the psychological and psychiatric needs of individuals. It is important to comprehend the critical patients of COVID-19 along with post-stress disorders with the stable forum of pandemic management. For underpinning the awareness and acceptance of post-stress disorders such as reactions to COVID-19 by emulated stress, support for psychological needs, and practical assistance for self-care. Multiple organizations working in Pakistan have undertaken certain initiatives.
According to Professor Paul Harrison from the University of Oxford, UK, said on News Release in the Lancet Psychiatry: “These are real-world data from a large number of patients. They confirm the high rates of psychiatric diagnoses after COVID-19 and show that serious disorders affecting the nervous system (such as stroke and dementia) occur too. While the latter is much rarer, they are significant, especially in those who had severe COVID-19.”
It is the pivotal need to resolve the mental unhealthiness and traumatic pressures caused by the pandemic in Pakistan. If not treated well, mental issues and traumas will be the future consequences of the pandemic. In terms of time, the side effects of a pandemic would be everlasting and untreatable.
Improving national capacity to respond to Covid-19 pandemic
Under the project ‘Improving National Capacity to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic in Pakistan’, a 360-degree media campaign was launched with the aim of two primary objectives: i. to run a campaign in selected 26 districts that will promote best practices to prevent COVID-19 through behavior change communications, with the help of various communication means/channels, ii. to promote and encourage people to adopt healthy behaviors, integrating and adapting to prevent stress, anxiety through the provision of mental health and psychosocial support service provided by the project.
To highlight and tackle the issues of anxiety, aggression, fear, and stress resultant from COVID-19, social organizations are encompassing the pandemic management with a sound campaign called ‘Ehtiyaat Wahid Nijaat’ in Pakistan. The consortium comprising of organizations such as International Medical Corps, Médecins du Monde, CESVI, HELVETAS, Swiss Inter-cooperation, ACTED, Welthungerhilfe, Concern Worldwide with their aesthetic assistance are working on this dilemma to normalize the post-COVID-19 traumatic stress and fear.
Zahra Arshad is a social researcher based in Islamabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.