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COVID-19: Nagaland sees rise in mental health problems

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DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 17: Nagaland is on the verge of another health crisis. With daily increase in COVID-19 cases, isolation and fear is generating widespread psychological trauma.
According to a study, mental health problems are on the rise since the pandemic hit the State some 6 months ago.
Just as the initial outbreak of the novel Coronavirus caught hospitals here unprepared, Nagaland mental health system – vastly underfunded – appears even less prepared to handle this imminent crisis.
Conducted by the State Health & Family Welfare Department, the survey on mental health and psychosocial well-being in Nagaland during the COVID-19 pandemic was carried out from June 12 to July 15. The study surveyed 1127 people to understand how they have been coping with the pandemic situation.
The study found 21.4% respondents suffering from depression, 12% from Clinical Insomnia (moderate & severe) and 13.7% from anxiety. The prevalence of Somatization/Somatic symptoms (medium, high, very high) is also high at 31.9%.
Principal Director of State H&FW, Dr Vizolie Z Suokhrie said the survey was taken to assess the prevalence of insomnia (sleep disorder), anxiety, depression and somatization (anxiety leading to physical pain).
Key findingsAccording to Dr Suokhrie, statistical analysis showed that women and respondents with high fear of COVID-19 (as per Fear of COVID score) were found to have significantly higher risk of experiencing insomnia, anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms. Also people in urban areas and people who perceive to have moderate or high risk exposure to COVID-19 at work place have significantly higher risk of experiencing insomnia.
People below 30 years of age, and those with educational qualification below graduation, have significantly higher risk of experiencing depression. Frontline workers (medical and non-medical) have lower risk of experiencing depression. Other factors like marital status, living with family/staying alone does not significantly affect the risk of experiencing the common mental health conditions assessed in this survey, the PD said.
Dr Suokhrie informed that the mean age of the respondents was 32 years, while 80% of respondents were graduates or above, 65% were unmarried, 75% live in urban areas and 82% were living with families. 58.2% of respondents were males. By occupation, 13% were frontline workers (medical), 8% were frontline workers (non-medical), 3% were returnees, and 76% were from general population/other occupations. Among the respondents, 52% perceived to have low risk of COVID at workplace, 34% at moderate risk, and 15% at high risk.
While there were respondents from all the districts, majority of the respondents were from Kohima (40%) and Dimapur (35%) districts, he said.
The study was done through an online survey with limited scope which only aims to provide a baseline prevalence data of common mental health conditions in Nagaland during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online questionnaire was hosted at www.nagahealth.nagaland.gov.in and publicized in various media platforms, and the data was analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) tool.
Informing that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the District Mental Health Programmes, under the Health & Family Welfare Department, has collaborated with All Nagaland Counselors Association (ANCA) to provide telephonic counseling services for any mental health issues like stress, anxiety, depression, etc., Dr Suokhrie advised those in need of counseling to call the toll free State Helpline 1800 345 0019 and choose Option 2, or send a request message through WhatsApp to 7005251298 to avail the service.
(Page News Service)