EHS-COVID (382) COVID-19 and mental health services (2)

6 June, 2021

Dear HIFA members,

In March 2020, to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 cases Indian government enforced a nationwide lockdown. The entire country was behind four walls. This was not any holiday to sit at home 24X7 and watch TV/radio news channels who were broadcasting COVID-19 horror stories with each passing day. Fear of contagion and death was the supreme factor. Apart from the health issues, life was in turmoil! Loss of wages for daily workers, reduction in salaries for employees, laid off employees, insecurities for children's education, increased household chores workload, increased professional workload due to 'Work From Home' or online meeting fatigue, struggle to pay rents/ EMIs (loan monthly instalments), struggle to place online orders for essential items on e-commerce platforms, students stick to computer screen for online classes (are they adequately equipped against online abuses), cleaning houses/ household items N times/ day with different sort of cleaning and sanitizing materials* was maniac experience (wasting precious water). The list is endless.

*I was referring to cleaning and sanitizing materials to those different brands who were featured daily on TV advertisements. Their products included hand sanitizer, floor cleaners, toilet cleaners, antiseptic solutions, etc. and claiming that all can kill Coronavirus! There was a flood of these products.

It manifested among the masses in the form of insecurity, confusion, agitation, disturbance, frustration and altered food habits/ lifestyle/ sleep. The population was deeply engrossed in the feeling of COVID-19 and had a single Q in their minds: What will happen tomorrow? All this had an impact on their family life and relationships which was evident in the form of arguments, blaming others, disagreements, disputes, fights, and domestic violence. It was like a path with no destination!

Best regards,

Sanchika Gupta

HIFA Global CR Coordinator

HIFA profile: Dr Sanchika Gupta is an Indian healthcare specialist with eight years of experience as both clinician and public health programmer. She explored wide breadth of public health realm viz. family planning/reproductive health, maternal, adolescent and child health during her association with national and international NGOs namely INCLEN, MAMTA, Jhpiego and Pathfinder International. She acquired technical expertise in advocacy, program management, research, monitoring and evaluation throughout her fieldwork in eight Indian states (Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh). She is the nominee of ‘120 under 40: the new generation of family planning leaders’ in 2019. In the recent years, she has been associated with HIFA through its Social Media Working Group and EHS-COVID19 project. In 2021, HIFA nominated her as Global Country Representative Coordinator. Currently, she is based in New Delhi, India and is available on email id or Twitter @sanchika_gupta.