China was the first country affected by the pandemic of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
Several unique characteristics of China’s COVID-19 epidemic patterns have affected mental health leading to increased anxiety, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in high-risk persons, and other mental health conditions for the following reasons:
- COVID-19 is more transmissible than SARS, and the case-fatality rate (2.3%) is substantially higher than that for seasonal influenza (see here). The uncertain incubation period of the virus and its possible asymptomatic transmission cause additional fear and anxiety.
- The government’s initial downplaying of the epidemic’s severity eroded public trust in the government’s decision-making transparency and competency.
- Large-scale quarantine measures, which confine residents to their homes, are likely to have a negative psychosocial effect on residents (see here).
- Reports of shortages of medical protective supplies following the quarantine has caused enormous concern throughout the nation.
- A unique “infodemic”—an overabundance of (mis)information on social media and everywhere else—poses a major risk to public mental health during this health crisis.
While it is important to stay informed, here are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.
- practice proper hygiene
- stay connected with your values
- manage your exposure to media coverage
- follow a calm-yet-cautious approach
- be generous
If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:
- Call them to check on their welfare
- Send an email
- Leave a note under their door
Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.