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#Coronavirus: Expert cautions about mental health toll of the epidemic


Mthokozisi Dube

LONDON – Seasoned mental health practitioner Carole Nyakudya has warned about the toll Coronavirus quarantine and self-isolation takes on people’s mental health.

Nyakudya, who is the managing director of UK-headquartered Lorac Healthcare, is convinced weeks of extended isolation enacted to control the spread of the virus could have significant and lasting health impacts.

Coronavirus has been at the forefront of the news cycle for several consecutive weeks now with 189,196 recorded infections by Tuesday and 7,511 deaths worldwide.

Nyakudya said while governments and health experts were scrambling to limit the spread of the coronavirus, it was also important to raise awareness on the impact of the pandemic on mental health.

She said the drastic steps being taken by governments across the globe – including weeks of quarantine, travel bans and closure of schools – were necessary to avoid potentially millions of deaths globally over the next few months.

However, she believes pursuing these measures could bring about a less obvious, but still significant, threat to the mental health of people who may themselves never become infected. 

“The mental health impacts of the outbreak will vary among individuals, but the most prevalent issues are anxiety and reactive depression especially from the isolation. It’s easy to understand why anxiety would spike during a crisis. Wall-to-wall news coverage and changing messages from political leaders can cause stress and uncertainty in average people,” Nyakudya said.

Nyakudya urged people to avoid sensationalist news coverage, avoiding close contact and making digital appointments with mental health professionals. She said there was need for secure and accessible electronic counseling services to be created as avenues for more rapid mental healthcare.

Experts say people impacted by the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s reported mental health issues for up to four years after the epidemic ended.Attachments area

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