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Hyderabad: Reassurance relieves Covid stress

Dr M Uma Shankar
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Dr M Uma Shankar

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Most of mental health issues during pandemic are normal reactions to abnormal stress: Dr M Uma Shankar

Hyderabad: Just like post effects of any illness or disaster, most of the individuals are likely to have mild mental health issues like anxiety and depressive symptoms related to the threat of Covid-19, said Dr M Uma Shankar, M D (PSY), Superintendent, Institute of Mental Health, Hyderabad.

He delivered a keynote address to a webinar organised by the Regional Outreach Bureau and the Press Information Bureau on Covid-19, "Impact on Mental Health and Mental Health Management in the city" here on Friday. Dr Uma Shankar shared that mental health issues post-covid-19 represent emotional reactions of normal people in abnormal situations and for a majority these symptoms are self-limiting. He said that individuals need reassurance that most of the mental health issues experienced in these situations are normal reactions to abnormal stress.

He advised that people can handle this situation more constructively, by being calm or learning to stay calm, busying themselves with simple daily activities, avoiding depressive or fear-inducing programmes on television or social media, connecting with others through telephone or digital means, cultivating or rediscovering old interests and hobbies.

Dr Uma Shankar said quarantine, isolation, and social distancing in the times of a raging pandemic can be psychologically distressing for many people. However, there are simple and effective actions to tackle all these and the key among them is to provide rightful information, he said. "The affected persons need to get appropriate information and clarification about various myths and false messages that are being spread through multiple unreliable sources. Guidance about maintaining a routine, physical exercise, Yoga, meditation, healthy diet, mental stimulation through home-based activities with appropriate safety precautions is essential. Brief relaxation exercises and supportive therapy can be done for those having severe psychological distress," he added.

Treatment by mental health professionals including medications and other interventions may be required for those with severe mental health disorders and emergencies, he advised.

The Director, PIB, and ROB Shruti Patil said that all the media units of the Ministry of I&B have been disseminating authentic information using various methods of communication from the beginning of the pandemic in India. Earlier Deputy Director, ROB, Dr Manas Krishnakanth, welcomed the guests and coordinated the webinar. Officers and staff of the Ministry of I&B and took part in the webinar.

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