Protecting your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

A member of the National Mental Health Response Team, Tashi Lham answers questions from students on coping with COVID -19 pandemic.

A boy in gho
23 October 2020

How do I know how I am really feeling during the current situation?

Female, 18, Class 10

In the current situation, if you are able to perform your daily routine starting from getting up in the morning, washing, having meals on time, completing your online assignments/classes (if assigned) and also spending quality time with your family and friends including setting aside some play- time, you need not worry.

If the above mentioned are hindered in some ways or the other and if there are times when you often feel disappointed, neglected and have difficulty coping with any of the above mentioned activities then it is probably a good idea to talk about it to someone who you trust or can reach out to a mental health professional to understand your own feelings.

How can we encourage others to open up and share their feelings or fear when we cannot contact them personally? What would be some tips to create a comfortable space virtually?

Male, 19, Class 11

If you don’t express or tell someone (at least someone who you are close to or call us) about your feelings/fears I am afraid it will not be heard. Confidentiality is a priority and letting people know that there is help available will be helpful. Our hotline numbers # are open (17123237/17123238/17123239/17123240/17123241).

Feel free to contact us via text messages/WhatsApp/WeChat. We can also call you back if you drop a message and if you want us to.  You can remain anonymous and we will respect that privacy. If you prefer virtual space such as zoom or skype or video calls, we can arrange that too. Virtual space will be arranged similar to the physical face to face setting (Ensuring safety and respecting privacy)

I am a student. I am uncomfortable about some of the things happening around me but all these problems haven't devastated me yet. I get disturbed and distracted by how people respond to this issue. I want to know how to help ourselves and others around me manage stress and anxiety.

Female, 18, Class 11

This COVID situation has indeed caused strong emotions and overwhelming feelings in people. Things you can do to support yourself and others to manage stress and anxiety may include but not limited to:

  1.  Staying physically away from the virus - avoid crowded places, wear a mask, maintain physical distance, hand washing.
  2. Express kindness, patience and compassion for others and self
  3. Take care of your body, take deep breaths, stretch, exercise, get plenty of sleep, do activities that you enjoy.
  4. Avoid Substance-Alcohol and Drugs for temporary relief of stress because it has high consequences later in life.
  5. Connect with others. Talk to people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling
  6. Call our hotline (17123237/17123238/17123239/17123240/17123241) if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row

In addition to the above points, focusing on self-control is essential. We see that many people do not follow rules in this COVID situation and the fact is that we cannot control each and every one of them but we can definitely have control over ourselves and can abide by the above mentioned points.

How does depression start?

Female, 18, Class 12

Depression, as some people know it is a serious mental health condition, which affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves and handles daily activities such as sleeping, eating, playing etc. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

In children, for this current situation or any other crisis, depression starts with more than normal complains of headaches and stomach aches, which is closely connected to one’s self esteem and connection with other people.

It is normal to feel sad or irritable time to time depending on the situation one is in such as; a breakup, losing someone close to you, failing an exam etc. But if these feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you feel overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless, you may be suffering from depression. What is important here is seeking professional help so that you will be able to differentiate between feeling sad or depressed. Call our hotline (17123237/17123238/17123239/17123240/17123241)

Why do people behave differently when they don't get drugs?

Male, 19, Class 12

Once the human body physically becomes dependent on drugs, the body adapts to the drugs in the system. When one abruptly discontinues using drugs, the body reacts and undergoes so called withdrawal symptoms as it adapts to the sudden absence of drugs.

For example; If someone has been smoking marijuana for a long time and has utilized it for common myths like “to concentrate or to gain confidence”, in the absence of marijuana in the body, the individual may start becoming restless, irritable, agitated, poor concentration and memory, insomnia and many more. If these happen to an individual, it is best to seek help from a mental health professional (Call our hotline 17123237/17123238/17123239/17123240/17123241) or consult a psychiatrist. Different drugs have different withdrawal symptoms depending on the type of drug one becomes dependent on.

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*Photo used in the story is only for illustration purposes.  

A poster with helpline numbers