World Mental Health Day | How Covid is also a mental health pandemic. Snapshot of the global crisis

In the last six months of the coronavirus pandemic, India has witnessed a surge in mental health issues. On World Mental Health Day, sheds light on the crisis.

10 Oct 2020 |  28

On September 12, a day before the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) was held across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tamil Nadu had a disturbing day. Three students who were set to take this exam, that admits students into MBBS courses, were found dead in their homes. In Madurai, a 19-year-old student hung herself from the ceiling, while a 21-year-old student in Namakkal and a 19-year-old student in Dharmapuri did the same. As per media reports, they had all appeared for NEET at least once before and were anxious about taking it this time. Before hanging herself, the student in Madurai wrote a note to her parents saying she would disappoint her family and others if she didn't clear the exam and get an MBBS seat. Earlier in that week, another student and a NEET aspirant had died by suicide in Tamil Nadu. He too was reportedly anxious about taking the exam. Suicides by these students in Tamil Nadu were not isolated cases during the pandemic. Similar cases were reported from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and several other states. LOCKED-DOWN Students are not the only group facing mental health challenges accentuated by Covid-19 pandemic. During the strict lockdown that the central government imposed in March to contain the spread of Covid-19, there were multitude of cases where hapless migrant workers ended their lives. A sudden and complete job loss triggered by the overnight implementation of the lockdown left them hopeless pushing them to take the extreme step. In several cases, people died by suicide out of fear of contracting Covid-19 and the stigmatisation that followed. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, many suicides were linked directly to sudden alcohol withdrawal as liquor shops were shut once the lockdown came into effect.

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