LettersCoronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on minds, along with jobs and sense of security
- Covid-19 has caused fear and panic, not only over possible infection, but also essential supplies and protective gear, and over job losses as economies stall. The risks of anxiety and depression, and even suicide, are all too real
The mental health problems arising from the Covid-19 outbreak could do more harm than the pandemic itself. In the last six months, people have panicked over masks and fears of food shortages, and are now worrying about unemployment, leading to anxiety and depression.
High unemployment rates have long been a catalyst for increasing suicide rates. Studies by leading US universities have established a link between increases in unemployment and a rise in suicide rates.
Recently, the United Nations issued a policy brief urging governments around the world to allocate more resources to tackle mental health issues to prevent a significant increase in depression and anxiety cases.
Covid-19 pandemic clouds future for Hong Kong’s university Class of 2020
In Hong Kong, to better understand public sentiment, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and City University of Hong Kong conducted a joint study to collect 1 million online posts related to the pandemic on major social networks and forums – such as Weibo and HKGolden – used in both the mainland and Hong Kong. The results of the study confirmed that emotions of people in both places closely tracked the development of the epidemic.
In addressing mental health issues, the earlier the better. In addition to psychological counselling, which may not be accessible to some people because of costs and other concerns, smart wearable products or applications are another option for treatment.
Deep in my heart, I believe this epidemic will be over one day. As long as we help each other and maintain positive thinking, the nightmare will end.
Dr Winnie Tang, adjunct professor, Engineering, Social Sciences and Architecture faculties, the University of Hong Kong