‘Extraordinary uncertainties’: Harvard prof on Covid-19, impact on mental health
There is a need for “unconditional income support” for those who have borne the brunt of Covid-19 crisis, professor of global health, Harvard medical school, Vikram Patel said during the last leg of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday. Patel talked about the worsening mental health in society, especially exacerbated by the pandemic. He said that “these extremely extraordinary uncertainties are affecting everyone’s mental health”.
“For those groups of the population whose employment prospects have been extinguished altogether, I think the impact (on mental health) is going to be far more serious,” Patel added.
Dr Patel said there is the need to normalize conversations around mental health. “There is never been a better time to seek help (for mental health),” he told HT’s health editor Sanchita Sharma.
He said if someone senses something unusual happening regarding mental health, the best thing would be to talk to someone. Patel added that in India, he recently noticed a huge change when it comes to reporting mental health issues in media.
“With carefully designed training programs, frontline workers can deliver very effective psychological and social interventions,” Patel said.
“Health is not just a biomedical issue, not just a technical issue but it is a citizen’s movement to demand and expect quality care,” he stated.
The Harvard professor said people should learn ways to mitigate stress. “Stress is not bad but what is bad is when it becomes toxic,” Patel said.
Patel co-leads the GlobalMentalHealth@Harvard initiative. His work focuses on the burden of mental health problems, their association with social disadvantage, and the use of community resources for their prevention and treatment. He was among the esteemed guests who were invited for a dialogue on the last day of the HTLS 2020 on Friday, besides US senator Mark Warner, international popstar Nick Jonas, and actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas.