The word pandemic is used to describe a disease with a wide occurrence on a global scale. In history, the world has witnessed some of the deadliest pandemics including cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox and HIV to mention just a few.
Now the world is confronted with another deadly pandemic yet again which, according to worldometers.info, is affecting more than 285,000 people across 185 countries as I am writing this article (confirmed cases have reached more than 420,000).
Though there have been concerted efforts from concerned entities led by the World Health Organization (WHO), in some countries we are still witnessing governments and people being confused about how to respond to this situation.
In some instances, people are forced to follow a new norm even though it is against their will. Many people around the world are required to self-isolate, keep their social distance, avoid crowds or even work at home. These measures will definitely impact people’s psychological wellbeing. Uncertainties about the virus, worry about who is sick or not, and the fear of getting the virus and whether or not there is a chance of recovery and what not still poses a great concern on individuals.
Even though it is understandable that people panic in this critical and fearful time, worrying too much will only worsen the condition and do not bring a solution to the current problem. As much as we are told to keep our personal hygiene, I would like to point out that our mental hygiene is also equally important. By that I mean, trying to stay focused, being able to sift fake information and those that are reliable, not panicking, staying positive and hopeful will definitely help us improve our coping capabilities.
Among some of the measures we could take in order to improve our mental hygiene includes asking for help when in need, strictly following trustworthy advises from WHO and the Ministry of Health and ignoring baseless conspiracies that might exacerbate the stress caused by the pandemic.
In addition to that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends some measures that would help improve mental wellbeing in times of outbreak and it includes taking a break from news and media report about the outbreak, talking to others (it could be on the phone) and etc.
It is odd that we are in a time where we say “Divided we stand, United we fall”. But keeping our faith alive and focusing on the future will definitely get us through this pandemic.
Baye B. Asfaw (M.A. and M.Sc.)
University of Gonder
Department of Psychology