By Esha Choudhary
Esha is writing in a secondary language
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of lives all over the world, with India being one of the most badly affected countries. From the loss of lives, jobs, and isolation, to the overwhelming sense of uncertainty and fear, the pandemic has brought about tough challenges and has impacted mental health here in many ways.
In March 2020, the Indian government declared one of the tightest lockdowns in the world. For the citizens of India, the lockdowns had a huge impact on their health, way of life, and mental well-being. Healthcare services were severely disrupted as a result of movement restrictions, joblessness and socially restrictive policies. People with chronic health conditions could not get the care and treatment they needed, and many important surgeries had to be put off. Patients and their family members experienced unhealthy amounts of stress and anxiety as a result. Crucial medical supplies were in short supply because of substantial disruptions in the supply of important medications and equipment.
Food scarcity and fear have been two of the most severe problems. Due to the pandemic, there have been inconsistencies in the supply of goods and there are shortages and price hikes for basic food items, particularly within some of our most underprivileged communities that are already trying to make ends meet, and this has caused a lot of concern and fear. Further aggravating the situation is the panic buying and food hoarding that has resulted from the fear of acquiring the illness. This is a country with a huge disparity between the people with money and the people who live in poverty, and the Covid pandemic has brought to light how crucial it is to guarantee food security and create resilient food systems that can resist shocks and catastrophes.
The effects of the lockdowns on people’s jobs were equally serious. There is a sizable casual labour force in India, where many people work in occupations with no social security benefits. Millions of jobs were lost because of the lockdowns and the collapse of numerous small businesses, and many migrant workers found themselves stuck far away from their homes with no way to sustain themselves. People were hopeless and helpless with no help from the government.
Domestic violence in India has increased as a result of the lockdowns’ increased social isolation, and many people—especially women—have been forced to remain with violent partners. The frequency of suicides has also significantly increased, particularly among young people.
The pandemic has been a particularly difficult period for me as someone who has already battled mental health difficulties. I’ve experienced worry, despair, and sleeplessness more regularly, and I frequently felt powerless in the face of the pandemic’s effects on my life.
The loss of social relationships has been one of the biggest obstacles I’ve encountered. I haven’t been able to see my friends and family as often as I used to because of social distancing techniques. This has been tremendously challenging because I rely on social interaction, and I frequently feel lonely and cut off from the world around me.
The constant stream of news and information about COVID-19 has been another difficulty I have had to deal with. Even while it’s crucial to keep informed, the constant barrage of depressing news has had a severe impact on my mental health. In these uncertain times, I have frequently battled to find hope and have experienced feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. I am twenty years old and at times life felt hazy, depressing, and pointless. What were going to happen to my aspirations, objectives, goals, and education? Do they still matter?
Many inequalities in Indian society have also been brought to light by the pandemic and lockdowns. Marginalized communities, such as low-income households, migrant laborers, and residents of slums were disproportionately affected, while those better off were largely unaffected. The poorer population encountered substantial obstacles when trying to get access to basic services like food and healthcare. In addition, putting social isolation measures into practice in congested living situations presented substantial difficulties.
I don’t know where you’re based in the world, but in India the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns had a profound impact our citizens during a time when the country is already in a difficult political climate. It is crucial to make sure that people’s health, livelihoods, and mental welfare remain at the forefront of policymaking as India navigates the next stage of the pandemic.