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How Covid Crisis And Quarantine Are Worsening Mental Health Issues

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As fate ensnared us in a seemingly perpetual lockdown, it was not a matter of bewilderment when everyone got glued to their smartphones and computers, hence bringing forth an era where people became hostages to their own technology, a documentation of our sifting emotions through the lockdown.

Slowly as we got gobbled up by this digital swamp, depression and mental illnesses soon dragged us into their abyss as well. It was only a matter of time when seclusion from the real world and entry in a digital world would carry waves of untamable depression for people worldwide.

I have lost a very good friend couple of years ago, who committed suicide. The fact that one good friend gave up life, without sharing anything with any of his friends, shook me to the core. Death of a good friend became the thought behind a mental health initiative that I name Baat Karo. It is a community service that helps people in venting out, and sharing what’s bothering them, through an anonymous chat. I believe the most important part of sharing something with someone is privacy, and the majority of people keep themselves bottled up and they are afraid to share because they think people would judge them.

The free chatline Baat Karo provides them with a non-judgmental environment where they can share anything, and talk about anything to trained volunteers and experts. Pakistani society needs to accept the taboo, it’s important and okay to talk and it’s okay to communicate. 

Mental health is equally as important as physical health. In terms of public mental health, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol, and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behavior are also expected to rise. Among much global health, economic and social disruptions, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has forced millions to physically isolate themselves. Couple that with extensive news coverage on the pandemic across various digital media platforms and cyberbullies lurking all over social media, it’s no wonder that anxiety and depression is on the escalating on an exponential rate.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Duke University, it was concluded that on days of high use of technology, users experienced more conduct problems and higher ADHD symptoms compared to days they used technology less. This clearly highlights how the overuse of technology can adversely affect our mental well-being.

Mental health and the time spent on digital media surprisingly correlates at an appalling level. Given the ubiquity of technology in daily life — particularly the internet and internet-based platforms such as social media sites and smartphone apps — mental health counselors working today likely will encounter clients who are experiencing issues that may be directly or indirectly linked to the use of digital media in the near future.  Whether it’s from reading too much negative news or researching your symptoms online, long exposure to digital media is very toxic for the mind as it can debilitate anyone’s mental capacity. COVID-19 has led to an internal and external war for people across the globe.

People are being told by the government to maintain social distance, isolation, and other hygiene measures. Flip the coin and you will find the other side of the picture where a major section of society, is fighting internally with the fear of uncertain situation rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This fear is giving rise to a state of anxiety, loneliness, and depression, and this state of depression is then amplified online as many people confront harassers, cyberbullies, and depraved stalkers that try to destroy what little social life you have left.

In a society enslaved by a patriarchal social media audience, it is the women that are at an even greater risk of developing mental illnesses such as depression and ADHD. 

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