Mental health is based on the cardinal functions of an individual’s brain.
There are four cardinal functions of the brain that are used in identifying the mental state of an individual.
- The ability of an individual to function in life
- The ability of an individual to form and maintain a functioning relationship
- The ability of an individual to work and contribute to the growth of the society
- The ability of an individual to cope with day-to-day adversities
A change or deviation in any of these four cardinal functions means a change in an individual’s mental health. Meanwhile, one can be suffering from mental illness and is still able to carry out the four cardinals.
Factors that can impact an individual’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a sudden change in our day-to-day activities and lives in general. This sudden change is described by the psychologists as Adjustment Disorder.
Some of the factors that can affect an individual’s mental health during this pandemic include;
Uncertainty: There is a high level of uncertainty surrounding the outbreak such as job security, fear of contracting the virus,how long the self-isolation would last, financial insecurity etc. Uncertainty puts a lot of pressure on us and this has adverse effects on our mental health if it’s not properly managed.
Stigma: The stigma surrounding a patient that has been tested of COVID-19 is real and this is largely due to lack of knowledge. However, proper and effective dissemination of information concerning COVID-19 can be a way to clear up stigmatisation.
Some of the activities that can help an individual cope during this pandemic include:
Maintaining a good diet: Having much of plant-based diet is important for our general well-being during this period.
Physical exercise: Being physically fit and active helps with cardiovascular and mental health.
Zero exposure to fake news: During this period, it is important for individuals to filter the type of information they consume. Sticking to a valid and reliable source of information is necessary.
Sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene involves participating in activities that promote and help us maintain a good and regular sleep pattern. Avoid taking stimulants or caffeinated drinks during the night time. The ability of an individual to initiate sleep withing 25 minutes indicates their healthy relationship with sleep, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern has tremendous impact on our mental health.
Read: Apps that can help you maintain a regular sleep pattern (https://www.instagram.com/p/B_SA5k6Ifdb/?igshid=p8nvxf8tdtx6)
Relaxation: It is important for individuals to take out time to relax and be with themselves. During this time, you can; pray, meditate and find quiet time. This is a very important routine as it helps us boost our mental health and makes us more aware of ourselves. Breathing exercises are also ways of relaxation.
Social connection: Staying connected to your loved ones through the social media or having conversations with family members that you are surrounded by. This is also a healthy way to maintain and improve one’s mental health.
This refers to how an individual handles situations either positively or otherwise. The way we manage through certain conditions has an effect on our mental health
Coping strategies can be divided into 3;
- Emotion-focused strategies
- Problem-focused strategies
- Dysfunctional strategies.
Note: Emotion-focused strategies and Problem-focused strategies are termed Adaptive Strategies.
Emotion-focused strategies: These are such activities we engage in to get relieved from our emotional problems. Some emotional coping strategies include;
- Humor – this involves finding means to evoke laughter and no matter how temporary
- Acceptance – this involves accepting the situation one finds himself and knowing you are doing your best to stop the spread by staying at home
- Cognitive refraining – this involves finding the positives in the current situation and making the best out of the time you have to yourself
Problem-focused strategies: These are the actions taken to pragmatically address a problem. Such actions range from actively analyzing the problem and writing them down in order of priority, a brainstorming session in order to come up with solutions, planning and preparing for the worst case scenario and reaching out to people who can offer useful pieces of advice. Such external help is termed instrumental support.
Dysfunctional coping strategies: This is otherwise referred to as the Denial strategy, i.e. not acknowledging the fact that there is indeed a problem. This form of coping strategy is unhelpful and highly discouraged. Such maladaptive strategies include venting, self-blame and use of hard drugs which is the most common.
Guest Speaker: Dr Olajide Obembe
He is a psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.