By Moses Charedzera
This is the first of a two-part analysis on Covid-19 and its impact on mental health.
My neigbour who owns and operates a commuter omnibus in the capital has been sleeping in the vehicle since the lockdown.
He looks distraught and passing through his homestead this week I overheard snippets of his desperate call for assistance on the phone.
He indicated that the situation was unbearable as he has not been on the road for a long time. He looks quiet and withdrawn, a man in deep thought coupled with anxiety over what the future holds as the coronavirus plague rages on unabated.
The W.H.O says that as the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
“In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise,” says the global body.
Stress levels are rising and quarantine and isolation have a profound effect on our well being.
The coronavirus pandemic has created higher levels of stress and anxiety in the community, with crisis support and suicide prevention phone service Lifeline in Australia reporting it had its busiest month ever in March, receiving more than 3,000 calls a day sometimes .
In Zimbabwe, the lockdown has increased tensions in strained relationships with gender activists reporting an upsurge in violence, while the stress of living under the lockdown regulations has created anxiety and uncertainty for thousands of people.
Reports also indicate lockdown regulations and fear of mixing with coronavirus patients has reduced the number of people with mental illness visiting hospitals in areas under movement restrictions globally.
Psychologists have warned that the coronavirus lockdown enforced by many countries worldwide is more likely to trigger mental health problems.
The lockdown encourages people to stay at home which means face to face contacts with loved ones and friends who are not in the same vicinity is limited.
Physical exercise and other routines which involve going outdoors have also been severely restricted.