Pandemic stress is broad-based now

If anxiety due to fear of COVID-19 has been a cause for concern as a threat to mental health during the pandemic period, there is more to 2020 that is creating a newer level of stress, that is world affairs.

The reason is the series of natural disasters and accidents that have been dominating the news.

According to Her Highness Sayidda Basma al Said, a clinical psychologist and founder of Not Alone Campaign and Whispers of Serenity, people are not as active as before and the focus is on staying indoors and the shift of focus is on what is going on around the world. There have been mudslides and storms, major fire accidents, blasts and plane crash.

“There is a bit of a panic mode going on. We had already been concerned about the unclear COVID-19, worries about the economy, job security, concern about family members, education and now the international level of fear with thoughts on what is going around the world and the future.

All of this has made COVID-19 not forgotten, not less but other issues have been overwhelming.

It can affect anyone and has been doing so,” explained Sayyida Basma.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Whispers of Serenity has had texting services in different languages where people could express their thoughts and concerns. They received more calls from women than men.

They also had numbers shared in other countries and the result was encouraging for the team to do more.

“We have had more than 175 calls from March to now. People from other countries have also been calling. We are learning from the experience such as the cause of distress and so on,” she noted.

Currently, the Not Alone campaign has crossed borders to reach out to the services and provide support.

“Even though Lebanon is very advanced in mental health the doctors also need support now. People are in a fear mode where they feel they have to do something. They are in a rage. They are cleaning and fixing the country and it has nothing to do with the money it is to do with feeling. I am very grateful for our team because we have already started receiving cases by text messages and via phone calls from Lebanese residents in Oman as well as from other countries.

It is a big learning curve for us as well about resilience. They began to work on the cleaning up the very next day. Some of them have gone back to work the very next day. You would think they would be paralysed emotionally to do anything when people go through such a huge disaster. The resilience is something to learn from,” concluded the founder of ‘Not Alone’ Campaign.