Friday | 05 June | 2020
By Emsie Martin
Two psychologists at the North-West University (NWU) state it is clear that different individuals react differently to the Covid-19 crisis.
Rümando Kok and Prof. Pieter Kruger, both senior clinical psychologists at the Institute for Psychology and Welfare (IPW) in the Centre for Health and Human Performance at the NWU in Potchefstroom, explain that it is understandable that people’s anxiety levels rise during this time.
“Anxiety can be described as a feeling of worry, anxiousness or uneasiness about something with an unsure outcome.”
The international research community predicts that an estimated 95% of people who contract the virus will in actual fact display only of few or moderate symptoms, but that the psychological effect of the current pandemic could have a far greater impact on the mental health of people worldwide.
According to Kok and Kruger, anxiety about contracting the virus and our inability to handle it is one part of the problem.
“A further problem currently facing us, is the consequences of the government’s strategies (rightly) to restrict the virus. These include self-isolation, social distancing and even quarantine. These unnatural and sudden forced changes in behaviour create a new set of mental health challenges.”
How do we handle our lack of routine, potential boredom, the fact that geographically we are confined to a restricted area and the inability to be involved with certain support groups face to face?
- People cannot participate in team sport, visit the gym or go to bars, cinemas and restaurants freely to obtain relief from their daily stress factors. Even a stroll on the beach is forbidden.
- People are also locked in close to immediate family members, relatives or house mates, and this can place tension on relationships, that could lead to further challenges to mental health.
- Although many people are able to work from home, this also presents challenges to mental health due to the fact that at home you are sitting in front of a computer the entire day.
“It is therefore important to find ways in which to adapt our approach to the new reality, at least until such time the situation improves. We have to be able to discern between controllable and uncontrollable factors. Individually we have no control over the protocols and decisions issued by the government, and we are expected to abide by them. We cannot control the virus, nor the impact it will have on many. However, what we can control is how we react to the current situation. We can be victims, or we can make the best of the situation.
“If we want to tackle the issue of Covid-19, it is unavoidable that we have to make a mutual effort to do things differently, not just on an individual level. This is not the time to panic or to create unnecessary fear, but we also should not remain unaware of or deny this worldwide threat. It is a time to stand together, be careful and take care of ourselves and others.”
If this lockdown starts to overwhelm you, use video-calls to talk to someone close to you about your situation. Not everyone is comfortable in this time of isolation, some get lonely and anxiety and depression gain control. If it becomes necessary, contact a support group that can help you in this regard.
For assistance, contact:
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline – 0800 456 789
Cipla WhatsApp Chat Line – 076 882 2775
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline – 0800 70 80 90
Suicide Crisis Line – 0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line – 011 234 4837
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour – 0861 435 787
* All information was correct at the time of publication.