“Psychologists have long recognized that anxiety is a normal and healthy function that alerts us to threats and helps us take measures to protect ourselves,” says Dr. Lisa Damour, expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author, and monthly New York Times columnist.
Regarding older people and those with basic health conditions, having been recognized as more susceptible to COVID-19, and to be told that you are very susceptible, can be exceedingly terrifying and very fear-provoking. The psychological effects of these populations involve anxiety and feeling stressed or angry. Its effects can be especially problematic for older people who may be suffering from cognitive decline or dementia. And some older people may already be socially separated and suffering from the loneliness which can exacerbate their mental health.
At a press briefing held on 26 March, Dr. Kluge, together with Dr. Aiysha Malik, Technical Officer, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO Headquarters and Dr. Dorit Nitzan, Acting Director of Emergencies, WHO/Europe, responded to questions on mental health matters in the context of COVID-19 and suggested insights on tools, techniques, and interferences to address them. “With the disruptive effects of COVID-19 – including social distancing – currently dominating our daily lives, it is important that we check on each other, call and video chat, and are mindful of and sensitive to the unique mental health needs of those we care for. Our anxiety and fears should be acknowledged and not be ignored, but better understood and addressed by individuals, communities, and governments,” Dr. Hans Kluge noted.