Covid fears leading to anxiety, mental stress

The Asian Age.  | Sanjay Samuel Paul

Life, Health

Six psychologists offer free counseling to victims, kin

The experts opined that currently most people are struggling from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and OCD. (Representational Image)

Hyderabad: Mental disturbance and distress have risen abnormally in several families because of the anguish caused by Covid-19. And the good news is that there is help round the corner, thanks to six Good Samaritans, coming in the form of qualified psychologists, who are offering free counseling to such stressed out individuals.

A good augury and an indication of their concern for the society in these testing times is that as members of Telangana Psychologists Association, they have been offered highly remunerative positions by leading players in the private health sector but they preferred to stick to free counselling. And this is not the first time they are rendering such yeomen service. They had done this last year during the first wave of coronavirus.

The league of six includes Dr Lakshmi Nippani, Dr Mothukuri Ramchander, Hima Bindu, Krishan Sahithi, Dedeepya and Haritha.

Free counselling for the second wave started early this May. Some of the callers ask if there was a need to visit hospitals and go for coronavirus test when they have cold, cough or mild fever.

The experts opined that currently most people are struggling from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and OCD. The counselors are coming in handy as people are not giving a patient hearing to those keen on narrating their mental trauma and seeking moral support.

Another major problem is lack of sleep, which is leading to various mental illnesses. It is also noted that blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension are also increasing with the surge in positive cases.

They pointed out that during the first wave many were panic-stricken and afraid of the death. They were scared of going for a test and the stigma associated with Covid pushed them into depression at that point in time.

But the scenario is different now. This time many are getting tested. Even those who are positive are calling up for help and the counselors divert minds of the victims and their families away from the illness.

Clinical psychologist Dr Nippani, who is the state secretary for the association, pointed out “Stress and agony are also caused when the society, including kin, shuns them. They feel like they are in a cage.

After the initial excitement, people are getting bored of ‘work from home’. There is quite an impact on family and relationships. We ensure that the callers express all their grievances so that we can suggest appropriate solution. One more concern is handling children during lockdown. Arguments and disagreements have led to psychological stress on every person in the household. These are eventually creating health problems.”

Dr Nippani emphasized on the need to keep a watch on the psychological health of elders.

“They get suffocated when they are kept away from their children and grandchildren. They can only stay connected by way of telephonic conversations,” she said.  

M. Krishna Sahithi, general secretary of the Association, who has four years’ experience in Telangana social welfare residential schools, and is associated with educational institutions, has made a difference to around one lakh people, who were unable to cope up with mental issues.    

“There is no one who is willing to listen to problems of others. In fact, they try to make fun of people facing severe anxiety issues. This is depriving them of their sleep,” she said.

They all urged people to be mentally happy and refreshed all the time and not brood over Covid. This change in mindset will keep their mental health fit and fine.

Counseling psychologist Himabindu said “after completing my masters, I am into counseling. Each call is different. If we miss someone’s call, we will make sure we return that call, as someone must be in an emergency situation. Every call is an SOS.”