(Woman in isolation, 2020)
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses (CoV), documented by Sadati el al., (2020) “are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more sever diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). An epidemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly since December 8, 2019 in China.”
This was only the beginning.
“The Coronavirus shock was wider and stronger than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bird flu, and swine flu in previous years.”(Sadati et al., 2020)
In addition, apart from the physical trauma that this pandemic has caused, the difference with this pandemic is the global sense of fragility of human life and our demand for “sterile society”, safe from hazards. We are now officially branded a “sterile society” hereafter.
“One of the most important consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak is the creation of social anxiety worldwide”(Sadati et al., 2020)
Now as policies are put in place to expel the virus out of society, this constant fear of exposure has resulted in irrational behavior worldwide. Just take a look at the panic buying! We need to behave rationally.
Bill Gates’ Premonition
In 2015 there was a Ted Talk uploaded on YouTube with it now having in excess of 23 million views. This Ted Talk showcased Bill Gates foreseeing the future, the future of biological warfare. He conferred that the greatest threat of global catastrophe will be a deadly virus. Not any virus, a catastrophic deadly virus. He argued that the world has more of a chance of this deadly virus than a declaration of war. Furthermore, we will have invested very little for the next epidemic. We need preparedness. Like what we would do for war. Unfortunately we won’t be ready.
How right he was!
He then continues to answer the compelling question of what are the key pieces we need for an epidemic? Firstly, we will need strong health systems throughout all poverty-stricken countries. Secondly, we will need a Medical Reserve Core with the expertise. Thirdly, we will need to pair these medics with the military. Finally, we will need to conduct simulations, “Germ Games not War Games” (The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates, 2020) so that we can see where the bottlenecks are. Together with this there will need to be extensive research conducted.
Bill Gates concluded that a world wide epidemic would effect global wealth as a whole. The global deficit possibly reaching 3 trillion dollars together with millions of deaths. The only positive in this situation, if we are prepared, is the Ebola Pandemic was an early ‘wake up call’ to get ready.
This Ted Talk was our opportunity to take note. Take note to plan and prepare. Unfortunately we are too late.
Managing Your Mental Health
Maintaining a healthy mindset is essential whilst cooped up in isolation. Whether it be in the comfort of your own home or cramped inside a hotel, mental health is a priority.
There are many ways, whether in self-isolation or in quarantine, to help balance your mental health. Beyond Blue (“Managing your mental health while in self-isolation – Beyond Blue”, 2020) have recommended the following:
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing
- Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods
- Try to maintain physical activity
- Establish routines as best possible
- For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space
- Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing
In addition, do not be afraid to seek help! It is very normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the news of a worldwide outbreak. For people, such as myself, who already struggle with mental health issues:
- Prompt your support network
- Recognise feelings of distress
- Look for professional support early if you are having difficulties
Furthermore, if you want to know what services this organisation offers, including Fact Sheets on the Coronavirus, click on https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/
Beyond Blue is an independent, not for profit organisation supported by the Australian Federal Government including every state and territory.
1800 512 348
Helping Your Children Understand
What you choose to say to your children about Coronavirus will depend on their age. However, the process of talking to them is the same (“From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue”, 2020).
The Director of Beyond Blue, Professor Brett McDermott suggests the following steps:
- Start the conversation – Children see their parents as protectors. They need to hear it from you
- Pick your moment – Take care to pick a moment when you’re not feeling anxious about this yourself, because anxiety is contagious.
- Strike the right tone – Be warm, thoughtful and acknowledge that it’s an emotional time. The way you deliver your message is vital.
- Encourage questions – Ask them if there’s anything else they’d like to know. They are curious creatures.
“Young children won’t have much concept of ‘coronavirus’ specifically, but they’ll know something’s happening simply because so many routines are changing.” – Professor Brett McDermott(“From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue”, 2020)
If you have older children and want some advice on how to address the issue, click on https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/i-am-supporting-others/children-and-students/from-toddlers-to-teens-how-to-talk-about-the-coronavirus.html
A recent movie that opened my eyes to the Ebola Pandemic, 93 Days. Considering what we are all going through now, I feel blessed that we have such advanced medical facilities in Australia. This is a much watch!
As I reflect on the current world crisis and the effect it has had on the populations mental health, it should remind us how societies are vulnerable both biologically and mentally. We must improve the fluidity not on the biological basis but also at mental, social and spiritual level.
- Khan, D. and Khan, D., 2020. Doctor’s Note: Coronavirus And Your Mental Health. [online] Aljazeera.com. Available at: <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/doctor-note-coronavirus-mental-health-200318064257416.html> [Accessed 6 April 2020].
- Woman in isolation. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/doctor-note-coronavirus-mental-health-200318064257416.html.
- 93 Days Trailer. (2020). [Video]. Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPeNgs6bMkY.
- Managing your mental health while in self-isolation – Beyond Blue. Coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au. (2020). Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/managing-my-daily-life/coping-with-isolation-and-being-at-home/managing-your-mental-health-while-in-self-isolation-or-quarantine.html.
- From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue. Coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au. (2020). Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/i-am-supporting-others/children-and-students/from-toddlers-to-teens-how-to-talk-about-the-coronavirus.html.
- The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Af6b_wyiwI.
- Sadati, A., B Lankarani, M., & Bagheri Lankarani, K. (2020). Risk Society, Global Vulnerability and Fragile Resilience; Sociological View on the Coronavirus Outbreak. Shiraz E-Medical Journal, In Press(In Press). https://doi.org/10.5812/semj.102263