BY: Iqra Malik & Asiya

According to WHO, 450 million people across the globe suffer from different types of mental health issues. In Pakistan, 1% of total population suffers from severe and 10% with mild mental health problems. The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in December 2019 has progressed to the status of a global pandemic, with countries across the seven continents adversely affected and the number of human cases exceeding two million. With no available vaccine, the treatment is primarily symptomatic for those affected and preventative for those at risk. Most countries have taken action to curtail the spread of COVID-19 through measures such as lockdowns, social distancing and voluntary self-isolation. Whilst necessary, such measures and the disease itself, may have an adverse impact on mental health. In view of research from previous pandemic crises, it is known that such situations are likely to increase stress levels and have negative psychiatric effects. The impact is likely to be felt by the general public, sufferers of COVID-19, their families and friends, persons with pre-existing mental health conditions and healthcare workers.

The Covid-19 pandemic already provoked depression and anxiety among these people and there are many reports of suicides due to hunger and poverty. This are also increased reports of home violence. The mental health issues are aggravated not only in poor but also in middle-income people because they are also facing disease fear and business collapse issues. This situation is worsening with every day. Even in this situation no mental health support is provided by the government and there is no plan available in future.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries imposed lockdowns on their citizens in an attempt to contain the disease. Pakistan is one of these countries. A government mandated lockdown can have mitigating psychological effects on young adults, out of which a large fraction is made up of students. This study aims to investigate the correlations between changes in sleep pattern, perception of time, and digital media usage. Furthermore, it explores the impact of these changes on the mental health of students of different educational levels.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been rapidly transmitted in late January 2020 and aroused enormous attention globally. Infected patients may develop severe and even fatal respiratory diseases (e.g., acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute respiratory failure) ending up in intensive care. Apart from physical suffering, it is not uncommon for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 to suffer from great psychological pressure and other health-related problems. The limited knowledge of the COVID-19 and the overwhelming news may lead to anxiety and fear in the public. The public at large may also experience boredom, disappointment, and irritability under the isolation measures.

This study investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent measures of lockdown, quarantine, and social distancing have affected students. We are looking into the effects and implications of all these on mental health; specifically, the stress and anxiety levels of college and university students. The sample population of this study comprised from all the major cities of Pakistan, including the districts form the urban and rural areas. The participant students belonged to Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and the capital city of Islamabad.

This study will add to the existing body of literature on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social and psychological health of students. The study outcomes will provide basic data for further applied and action research and the framework for universities and policy makers in Pakistan and the neighboring countries in the region with the same cultural contexts.

Depression and anxiety are up to three times as likely for those on low incomes.
55% of women report a significant impact from COVID-19-related income loss.
Unemployed people are less mentally and physically resilient than those in work.
Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of people losing their jobs, with some communities hit harder and low-income families disproportionately affected. In the United States, 46% of adults on low incomes have struggled to pay their bills since the start of the pandemic, with 32% finding it tough to meet rent or mortgage payments.  Anxiety level Among the respondents, 290 (58.7%), 125 (25.3%), 45 (9.1%) and 34 (6.9%) experienced minimal to moderate, marked to severe, and most extreme levels of anxiety, respectively. For further analysis, respondents in the marked to severe anxiety category and the most extreme anxiety category were grouped together as severe to extreme levels of anxiety.

           During this type of natural crisis everyone experience fear of infection, losing loved ones and worries about the consequences of pandemic So far, there is urgent need to overcome the virus and its physical threat; when the pandemic will diminish and we will start our normal life, it is the psychological issue that will emerge and will last for months and years to.  

Researchers have also found that unemployed people are less mentally and physically resilient than those in work. Depression and anxiety are up to three times as likely for people with low incomes, with the impact of joblessness on mental health worse in countries with widespread income inequality and weak unemployment protection.
The poverty gender gap

Women, who are more likely to work in informal jobs and have caregiving responsibilities, are at particular risk. In a survey of more than 10,000 people in nearly 40 countries, 55% of women reported a significant impact from COVID-19-related income loss, compared with 34% of men, while 27% of women experienced increased struggles with mental health issues, compared with 10% of men.