How COVID-19 impacted mental health in Jordan

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“Mental healthcare for all: Let’s make this a reality” is the slogan used to highlight the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day. (Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — Sunday marks World Mental Health Day for 2021. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) website shared that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a serious decline in people’s mental health, and Jordanian psychiatrists concurred with this statement. اضافة اعلان

On the WHO’s website, they shared that the pandemic impacted certain groups more than others, most notably frontline and healthcare workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental disorders. 
In efforts to combat the adverse mental impact of the pandemic, the WHO is using the slogan “Mental health care for all: Let’s make this a reality” as the theme.

The disruption of mental health services, neurological services, and services for substance use disorders played a significant role in the decrease of mental health, WHO shared on their website.

In Jordan, Psychiatrist Muhammad Shakkour shared that there is an increase of poor mental health around Jordan, he said: “Things are becoming clearer since restrictions and curfews were lifted. There has been an increase in the numbers of those who visit the psychiatric clinics.”

Shakkour pointed out that the greatest impact of the pandemic was the rise of people suffering from stress, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He also shared that the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing disorders in some people, and caused relapses and a decline in the mental health status in others.

Psychiatrist Ahmed Al-Jaludi said that there is a disparity in the impact the pandemic had on people.

“We all felt a state of stress and anxiety, not all of these feelings are pathological conditions, some of them are natural and can be corrected without resorting to a psychiatrist,” he shared.

Jaludi clarified that the effects of the pandemic caused some to retire from public life leading to social isolation and prevented some from going to work, these conditions could be classified as disorders and a psychiatrist must be seen in order to treat them.

He also indicated that there is no comprehensive study indicating the number of mental health cases affected or caused by the pandemic, as the cases are diverse, but the psychiatrist can distinguish which are affected by the pandemic from others, as there are some clear identifiers.

Jaloudi pointed out that stress and anxiety were not due to the COVID-19 virus alone, but rather the change of lifestyle, the restrictions, the curfew, and the numerous closures led to psychological disorders, and depression, which may be the most critical result of the pandemic.

Shakkour stressed that the government had worked on many initiatives that aimed to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on mental health, the most important of which were honest news bulletins and press releases that clarified the numbers of infections and deaths, which contributed to reassuring people and giving them a sense of confidence.

In contrast, Jaloudi said that the government’s effort was focused on the virus, from social distancing to preventive measures more than on the psychological aspect. However, some individuals and associations that specialized in psychological care initiated many campaigns for mental health, which led to good outcomes.

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