Friday, July 30, 2021

Covid-19 will leave endemic mental illnesses on its wake

Of all the troubles that covid will bequeath the world, the biggest, save for loss of life has to be the mental health.

Covid has ravaged mental health across societies.

The situation is only beginning to get apparent.

Aspects of health are now being sacrificed as all focus is on fighting the bigger and more immediate danger being covid.

But this is not to say other illnesses are retreating or getting any better. No, they have only been abandoned.

But they are getting worse.

Botswana should do more to prepare for a totally new and unprecedented wave of mental illnesses.

Right now, people, including little children are suffering in silence.

Kids have spent in-ordinate lengths of time out of school as a result of lockdowns.

Some have lost their parents to covid.

Others, like their parents are downright scared of the future – worried that they might catch covid.

Anxiety and stress have reached fever pitch levels.

Even before Covid, Botswana health system has never had a strong component dedicated to mental health.

Grief and isolation – all very prevalent during the covid pandemic are big causes of mental ills.

To make matters worse, doctors keep reminding us that covid affects parts of the brain.

This will most likely deteriorate later.

The trouble in assessing the true nature and gravity of the problem in Botswana is both sociological and also clinical.

Men in Botswana are brought up to hide their emotions.

There is also little clinical test happening.

But red flags are all over.

There are growing incidents of clinical depression.

We know that early detection saves lives, because depression often leads to suicide.

Families are also struggling to cope with growing incidents of drug abuse, especially among the youth.

A lot is still to be fully understood just what kind of damage covid causes to the brain.

Yet there is no doubt that on the ground the situation is deteriorating.

The situation will definitely be much more prevalent among the young people.

They are the ones most stressed by covid and its effects.

They have lost jobs and their livelihoods.

Their lives have been turned up-side-down.

Suicide among the youth is growing.

Many of them have been forced to move back to family homes with their parents because they could not continue paying mortgages.

Covid might be a health issue.

But it also has devastating economic and social effects.

These will only grow with time.

The best way to respond to this new and growing health hazard would be to put more resources into it.

That would mean getting more manpower, but also facilities that will be acutely needed in the not so distant future.

That should be a priority, given the scale of the problem.

More resources should also be channeled towards training more relevant professionals in the area of mental health.

Or else the whole system will be overrun in no time.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the health system.

But the true damage is yet to be felt when the side effects of the pandemic hit the scene.

The best way is to prepare as early as now.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper