As city gears up for more relaxations, psychiatrists advise people to show tolerance

Updated: Jun 06, 2020, 07:03 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

As city gears up for more relaxations from Monday, psychiatrists advise people to show tolerance towards fellow citizens in public

A couple enjoys the sea breeze at Marine Drive on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
A couple enjoys the sea breeze at Marine Drive on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

With the lockdown being gradually lifted, psychiatrists have a word of caution for public at large. They are of the opinion that people should exercise restraint and be more tolerant towards others in public places.

They have also asked people to avoid unwanted conflicts and develop a more tolerant attitude. With the fear of the pandemic looming, they believe people should seek help from experts whenever needed and join hands to sail through the difficult times.

Speaking to mid-day, senior psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Kumavat, former deputy director mental health, Government of Maharashtra, said, "We must understand that due to the prolonged social disconnect, most of the communication was happening through digital platforms without any personal interface. And with every passing day, the insecurity became a habit and trust, a rare phenomenon, as the surroundings were hostile. The pandemic added fuel to mood swings,"

Division of 'we' and 'they'

Dr Kumavat added, "Constant exposure to COVID-19 discussions, talks and television visuals led to increase in negative emotions, which led to clouding of wisdom in our actions and thought process. The society got divided gradually into 'we' and 'they' — 'we' being those who claim to be following the rules and have managed to safeguard themselves till now, and 'they' are those who are unsafe from the health aspect. This kind of division is not healthy for a developing society, as it might lead to constant arguments, fights and increase intolerance. So, we need to be broad-minded and tolerant. We should be mindful of our actions, thoughts, words and gestures. An impulsive behaviour can ignite unnecessary challenging situations."

People facing psychological issues can reach out on these numbers
People facing psychological issues can reach out on these numbers

He further said, "Moreover, public behaviour is a challenge, especially when we see someone sneezing, coughing or spitting unknowingly. We must learn to be tolerant about these things and express our feelings in a gentle manner. A harsh or insulting gesture might trigger unnecessary conflicts in social life. Also, unwanted conflict should be avoided, as there is high probability that someone is already under tremendous pressure (due to job loss, financial constraints, insecurity or death)."

'Take charge'

"Moreover, it is a fact that the lockdown has adversely impacted all domains of life irrespective of a person's class, creed and socio-economic status. One needs to be mindful and people should adopt other methods of calming down like meditation, yoga, exercise etc. The situation will change but not overnight. People will have to understand that COVID-19 is a part of us. So the need of the hour is to take charge of things which are within our control, that is, peace of mind, our protection and safety and most importantly, taking care of our families and the society. People should not feel ashamed to seek help for mental problems. They should not take extreme steps if they feel they are not being able to cope with a crisis. They can reach out through the round-the-clock helpline numbers," he concluded.

Dr Avinash Desousa, consulting psychiatrist from Santacruz, said, "We must understand that all of us have been going through this lockdown phase for nearly 80 days now. Some might have experienced hardships due to loss of job, loved ones, business worries etc but getting upset, impulsive or aggressive won't help you get what you are looking for. It is important to have a level-headed, calm mind in such testing times."

Commuters wait at a BEST bus stop at MG Road, Borivli on Friday. PIC/SATEJ SHINDE
Commuters wait at a BEST bus stop at MG Road, Borivli on Friday. Pic/Satej Shinde

"This lockdown is being lifted not because we have managed to get rid of COVID-19 but to ensure normalcy returns amidst strict guidelines. We should also understand that with majority of the migrants leaving, the situation might not be the same once the businesses open up. Maybe we will have to get everything done by ourselves and that might slowly become a way of life. Incase of any difficulty in handling such situations, mental health professionals are always around," he added.

'Spitting a serious threat'

Physician Dr Wiqar Shaikh is of the opinion that spitting in public places is a serious threat and people should follow proper hygiene in public places.

He said, "People need to understand that sneezing and coughing without a mask, and spitting are likely to spread COVID-19. With the exponential increase in cases, we seem to have entered the stage of community transmission. We therefore need to be strict about personal hygiene, which means taking regular showers, washing hands with soap, using hand sanitizers and coughing/sneezing wearing a mask. Spitting in public places should be banned and people should be fined if found doing the same."

Dr Shaikh added, "Besides COVID-19, another worry is transmission of other ailments like tuberculosis, which can spread through spitting in public places. To prevent monsoon-related ailments like malaria, dengue, leptospirosis etc in Containment Zones, the civic body should take extra care by regularly disinfecting public toilets, not allowing people from venturing into flooded water and making social distancing and use of masks mandatory."

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