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Alarm: COVID-19 triggers fresh mental trauma in Kashmir

Alarm: COVID-19 triggers fresh mental trauma in Kashmir
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Al-Misda Masoon
Srinagar: As the number of COVID cases in Kashmir continues to soar people across the region are feeling anxious about the developments. What has added more to the problems of people of Kashmir is that the place was already plagued by the perpetual strife of past three decades leaving a large chunk of population suffering from various mental ailments.
As per the doctors, Covid-19 has tripled the level of stress among the people which has resulted in the sudden increase in the mental trauma causes in the ailing Kashmir. The lingering shadows left by the strife over the years have witnessed a phenomenal increase in psychiatric morbidity.
According to a 2015 survey by Medicines Sans Frontiers, nearly 1.8 million adults in Kashmir that is 45 per cent of the population have shown symptoms of mental distress. More than 41 per cent of the population showed signs of depression, 26 per cent showed signs of anxiety and 19 per cent showed probably symptoms of post –traumatic stress disorder.
Kashmir has already seen one death that of a middle aged man while as two minors including an infant were tested positive taking the total positive cases registered in the Valley to 13.
Amidst lockdowns and social distancing coupled by the rumour mongering, increasing number of positive Covid-19 cases, the fear of death and now death of a positive case in the valley, these figures are sure to increase, experts say.
Dr.Yasir Wani, said that the place already has a history of mental illness which can shoot-up in situations like Covid-19 scare. The abrupt rise in stress levels can also lead to suicidal tendencies.
“With proper knowledge about Covid-19, we can decrease risk of mental illness in Valley. We should stop taking Covid-19 as a death sentence as it has the mortality rate of only 2 per cent,” he said.
The current mental health scenario of Kashmir is bound to get ugly by the day since Kashmiris have a habit of being reluctant in accepting their mental illness because of the social stigma attached, resulting in their delayed treatments.
Kashmir’s leading psychiatrist Dr Arshad Hussain also acknowledged this behavior of Kashmiris and said, “Stigma is a big impediment to treatment and might be catastrophic if we continue with mental isolation instead of physical isolation”.
Dr. Hussain was of the view that while Covid-19 can be curbed through physical isolation, its lasting effects on the human psyche can be successfully battled through emotions of love and empathy and prayers for wellbeing of the infected and suspected cases as well.
A mental therapist at one of the prominent NGOs working in Kashmir said that ever since the pandemic gripped the Valley, they are getting lot of call from patients already admitted with them who complain of highest stress level and other associated symptoms with mental trauma.
“We are trying to counsel these patients over phone from our homes,” he added.
Calls from new patients too have started pouring in and they are showing suicidal tendencies, sleeping disorder, sudden change in behavior and panic attacks which includes rise in heart beats etc,” the mental therapist said.
“We are trying our best to give them lessons to overcome the trauma in whatever way we can on phone,” he added. (KNO)

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