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In years to come, mention of 2020 will probably conjure emotions of grief and anxiety, and memories of a dark period for many. This year introduced us to the novel coronavirus and simultaneously brought mental health into focus. The virus's negative impact has made us acutely aware of the effects of stress and what we can do about it.

This year's Mental Health Day theme is "Move for mental health: let's invest." While there is no doubt that people of all walks of life were affected by the pandemic, many reports identified that Covid-19 was particularly challenging for specific groups in our community; frontline workers, teachers, students, parents, and those in a state of poverty. As the island was shut down and placed under curfew, preservation of our health thrust us into social isolation. For those battling existing mental health conditions, this experience proved devastating.

Did you ever wonder why persons swarmed the supermarkets and bulked purchased items such as toilet paper in the pandemic's earliest stages even though it was common knowledge that the virus affected the respiratory system? The memes and comments ridiculing those who did these things were hard to ignore. For some of you, this behavior was weird, peculiar, and illogical. However, for those who understand the dynamics of stress and its impact on mental health, this behavior was not difficult to understand. These "bulk buyers" quickly processed that if this highly contagious virus causes a national shutdown, they would be unable to go to the supermarkets. No access to the supermarkets meant they would be without key necessities with no timeline for normalcy established. They envisioned having to make substitutions for the simple call of nature. The possibility of this meant there was a need to secure toilet paper in the event that this respiratory virus causes a massive shutdown. This series of thoughts is typical of someone who has convinced themselves of a particular situation and calculated their approach. This pattern is often seen in persons who are affected or consumed by anxious thoughts. Those who do not possess these traits can find it difficult to relate.

We all have a responsibility to bring awareness to Mental Health to encourage understanding in our sphere of influence. We've embraced this responsibility at ICBL and will use this space to provide you with an understanding of a few definitions that can add value to you and those in your life especially during this period of uncertainty.

Fear – A feeling of dread related to an identifiable source. The defining characteristics may be subjective or objective. Subjective characteristics include increased tension, apprehension, impulsiveness, terror, and panic. Objective characteristics include rapid heart rate, superficial vasoconstriction (this causes the pale look in the face), and pupil dilation (this expands our field of vision to identify surrounding danger).

Panic – An intense, sudden, and overwhelming fear that produces immediate physiological changes that result in paralyzed immobility or irrational hysteric behavior.

Anxiety – A state or feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, agitation, uncertainty, and fear, resulting from the anticipation of some threat or danger.

Post-traumatic stress – An acute emotional response to a traumatic event or situation involving severe environmental stress, such as a natural disaster, airplane crash, serious automobile accident, or physical torture.

To those of you who had negative experiences or those who have friends and loved ones that have displayed adverse changes in behavior, you can remain present and engaged in their lives by using the resources around to help them.

The WHO developed a stress management guide for coping with adversity called, Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide.

Take a look today: Clink on this link: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240003927?gclid=Cj0KCQjw8fr7BRDSARIsAK0Qqr7aZOVw0cuvaK40A6k0aphXGt0p9e6HUypQ323oRETv-o6TDddbXWAaAscAEALw_wcB