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As humanity faces its biggest existential crisis, covid-related mental health issues are becoming a possible burden for everyone. The issues are about anxiety, social isolation, depression, and loneliness. In India, the second most populated country in the world, there are an estimated 130 million people dealing with mental health threats. The lockdown days were not alike for everyone - there were people serving in the line of duty and others working from home. Regardless of all the differences, the drastic change in routine carried in itself the capacity to cause stress, worry, and anxiety for most.

People are returning to their workplaces, coffee shops are serving takeaways, and rays of hope are breaking through our reality, reshaped now and forever by the impact of the recent pandemic. While most of the VUCA + world is slowly but surely looking toward a "new positive beginning", it's just now that we will begin to see the real deep impact of this pandemic.

We believe we are on the cusp of the biggest global mental health emergency in recent history. The effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health will be bigger than anything that we have seen before in the world.

The second wave of impact will be on people who have lost jobs, received pay cuts and those who have lost their near and dear ones. However, the most vulnerable in the mental health crisis will be the vast, marginalized populations across the world.

Even as the Covid19 curve flattens in several countries, regrettably the mental health curve is likely to see an upward tick. While the world is focused - and rightly so - on the physical health impact of Covid19 and on controlling the pandemic, we must not lose sight of the looming mental health crisis.

The key message should be "Maintain social distance but not Mental distance with the people around you".

There are an estimated 130 million people in India with mental health issues, making India the most depressed country in the world as per the latest World Health Organization report. This number is bound to increase as the country grapples with the pandemic. Despite the large burden of mental illnesses, only 10% of Indians with mental health problems receive evidence-based treatments. 

Also in India, unfortunately age-old stigmas, prejudices, and fears with regard to mental health still persist. The discovery of a mental illness is often followed by denial and hesitation to seek help. Even though mental disorders can be cured or managed, most people tend to sweep their issues under the carpet and suffer in silence. The good news is that in recent years, we have seen an increased level of awareness about mental health. 

Humankind is being tested like never before in this current pandemic. We are seeing manifestations across the world of a new set of fears, prejudices, and suspicions. Kindness and compassion are more relevant than ever before. "Stay Happy Stay Strong Stay Healthy" the compassion mantra that we would like people to embrace. And then kindly follow up with being compassionate towards the immediate circle of influence being family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and the community. Spend time affluently to spread awareness about kindness, gratitude, compassion to build resilience for self and for your circle of influence.

 You may know people in your circle - friends, relatives, and colleagues who are experiencing the telltale feelings of stress and anxiety. Talk to them, spend time with them, and reassure them. Guide them to seek help. Remember, “Save one Soul at a time in the journey to make the world a better place".

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