Nepal

Psychosocial status of women with mental health conditions during COVID-19 and lockdown (August 2020)

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INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

COVID-19 is a National and International public health emergency. The infection has spread to almost every country around the world. As per the report of WHO, globally, there have been 23,697,273 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 814,438 deaths with the recovery of 16,643,538 (till 26 August 2020). According to the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Population, in Nepal 34,418 confirmed infected cases of COVID-19 have been identified including 175 deaths and recovery of 19,504 people (till 26 August 2020).

The COVID-19 has not only affected people's physical health but mental well-being as well. The terror of being infected by the disease is greatly impacting the mental health of the people. The whole country was in lockdown state since March 23, 2020. The modality of lockdown has been changed with the ease of lockdown in some of the places. However, the districts with the active and higher number of infected cases are still under lockdown.

The regular schedule running errands has changed. People still have to stay in their homes for the sake of their health and others. As humans, we develop our response mechanism as per the task we have to carry out but when the uncertainty takes place, it usually triggers anxiety. For now staying at home, working from home, or not working at all, uncertain about what will happen next has contributed to the increment of anxiety and stress level among people. Changes are usually hard to accept; people usually go through adjustment problems due to these changes. For now, because of the rapid changes, people are being unable to cope with it. The situation is even worst for the people who are experiencing mental health problems and are under medication. Many of them are being deprived of psychotropic medications which increases their chance of relapse.

Different studies conducted in Nepal during the COVID-19 pandemic also indicate the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown in the mental health of people. A study conducted by NFDN (2020) with 422 participants to assess the situation of persons with disabilities on the condition of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown showed that 7.5% of people with disabilities are in need of psychosocial support. Similarly, in the situation of lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic around 79% were found living with fear and 31.51 % were found extremely scared which seems to be alarming from the perspective of mental health.

During the Rapid Need Assessment (RNA) survey (2020) conducted by Handicap International among 686 individual respondents with different types of disability showed that 29% participants responded having felt hopelessness/ nervousness/ anxiety/sleeping difficulties/physical reactions in the previous week, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown situation.

Similarly, a study conducted by Mercy Corps (2020) in 58 participants showed that 69% of the participants were found to have psychological distress while 60% stated that fear of death was one of the major concerns. The study was done to understand the awareness level of COVID-19 and child safeguarding issues.

A social media survey in COVID-19 was conducted by TPO Nepal (2020) with 1507 participants indicated that 20% of the respondents experienced restlessness, 24% experienced fearfulness, 24% had anxiety and worry, and 24% experienced sadness most of the times/always over last two weeks. Similarly, 42% of respondents shared that they suffered from at least one psychosocial problem while 26% suffered from two or more psychosocial problems such as restlessness, fearfulness, sadness, anxiety, and worry.