COVID-19 triggered an increase in mental health issues, say psychologists

As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of mental health problems in the country, psychotherapy is necessary to reduce its negative effects, psychologists have said.

Speaking on the last day of a six-month-long psychotherapy training conducted by The School of Psychology Nepal in Kathmandu on Monday, psychologist Dr Narendra Singh Thagunna said that more Nepalis had fallen victims to depression and anxiety as psychological effects of COVID-19.

He added that losing job, lack of employment opportunities, financial problems, domestic violence and traumatic events triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic had caused psychological problems.

Similarly, with schools nationwide locked down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health consequences on students have come into a sharp focus.

“Psychological counseling services have now become absolutely necessary to solve mental health problems,” said Thagunna, a psychologist who is also the chairman of the organization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing, according to a survey by World Helath Organization.

Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection ̶ they may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death.

Highlighting awareness regarding mental health issues, the founding chairman of the organization, Padma Raj Joshi, said that trained psychologists will be able to provide psychiatric services to people who are at risk and seek help.

As most developing countries lack adequate psychiatry services, psychologists are provided with appropriate training and deployed to help people struggling with mental health issues. Nepal

One of the trainees, Sirjana Shrestha who is also a teacher at the Bhaktapur Multipurpose Campus, said that the training had helped her realize that most people struggling with mental health issues can be cured if they get proper psychiatric services.