Mental health during Covid pandemic and cooperatives

A virtual interactive session titled “NCDC Health Talk — Covid & Mental Health” was held in which Prof. Nand Kumar, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, dwelt in detail on the ways to overcome mental health crisis during the pandemic that has swept the entire world.

Mental health during Covid pandemic and cooperatives

New Delhi

With anxiety, financial loss, lifestyle changes such as social distancing norms, and death brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic having an adverse impact on the mental health of people, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) revealed its compassionate side by holding a session on mental health talk online for its staff and members of the cooperatives from across the country June 4 here.

A virtual interactive session titled “NCDC Health Talk — Covid & Mental Health” was held in which Prof. Nand Kumar, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, dwelt in detail on the ways to overcome mental health crisis during the pandemic that has swept the entire world.

Ms Preitiben Patel, Chairperson of Rajkot Women’s Credit Cooperative, anchored the programme. Welcoming the speaker, Dr  KT Channeshappa, Executive Director, NCDC,  said that such a session was the need of the hour given that Covid-19  deaths, lockdowns and job losses resulting in anxiety and depression are quite widespread. “People are going through a multitude of traumas which need to be talked about. NCDC Ayushman Sahakar scheme is a response and we have been holding a series of such sessions at the initiative of our MD Sundeep Nayak,” said Dr  Channeshappa, himself a Covid survivor.

During the session, which stretched for over more than an hour, Dr Nand Kumar talked about various issues related to Covid-19 ranging from its impact on psychology, physical well-being as people suffered persistent nervousness, irritability, poor concentration, sleep disturbances, panic disorders and phobia such as fear of not getting medical treatment in time, which in turn aggravated the health problems, physically and mentally.

He pointed out that while normal stress was needed, during the pandemic, social experiences like Covid diagnosis for oneself or family members, lockdown, migration, work from home, online education, etc., which have never been on any rating scale, have an impact on the individual’s mental health.

Keeping in contact with one’s near and dear ones through virtual media like phone and videos, restoration of physical activities like walking in the fresh air, doing yoga and a little bit of stretching, meditation and maintaining a daily routine were some of the measures suggested by the doctor to keep the mental health problems at bay.  Prof. Nand Kumar also emphasized helping people whenever possible as it gives a sense of fulfilment and calms the restless mind.

The doctor also warned not to get engaged in purposeless surfing or watching too much social media while in bed as it can lead to more fatigue and in the long run can have an impact on mental health. “Also, having nutritious diets, cutting down on junk and frozen food will keep one healthy. There is no need to take an overdose of so-called supplements or vitamin tablets on the pretext of increasing immunity,” he said, as he emphasized the common saying ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.

During the interactive session, Prof. Nand Kumar replied to a range of queries raised by the participants. When one of the viewers queried about the issues related to the post-Covid cough, Prof. Nand Kumar cautioned that it should not be ignored and the doctor should be contacted immediately in case of any problem.

Another viewer wanted to know how to do a balancing act between work from home and work for home. To this, Prof. Nand Kumar said that it was important to schedule timings for the official work and also give time to the family members, including kids. He also felt that parents should get involved in activities with the children, who were also going through mental trauma because of online classes in Covid times.

 “Covid will go away sooner or later but (the) trauma caused by the virus will stay for a long time and we should come out of it as soon as possible by restoring our daily activities and cognitive flexibility,” he said and advised that when in panic just think about the mantra that “this too shall pass”.

Talking about the need of holding such a session, Ms Patel said that mental health crisis impacts women in a big way and the second wave has taken a toll on families.

MD Sundeep Nayak added, “As an organization, it is NCDC’s responsibility to be with our employees and cooperators and help them find ways to cope with situations like these.”

The event was attended by representatives from 150 cooperative societies across the states besides the staff of the NCDC head office and its 18 regional offices.