Further findings show that people with conditions such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease were more likely to develop mental disorders and that people with mental disorders were more likely to suffer hospitalisation, severe illness and death when contracting Covid-19.
Loneliness, fear of infection, suffering and death for oneself and for loved ones, grief after bereavement, and financial worries have all been cited as stressors leading to anxiety and depression. Exhaustion has been a significant trigger for suicidal thinking among health workers.
WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The information we have now about the impact of Covid-19 on the world's mental health is just the tip of the iceberg.”
SA integrative health coach, Laura Johnston said the pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s lives and has led to an increase in unhealthy coping habits such as overeating, less physical activity, and increased smoking, drinking, and substance abuse.
She encouraged South Africans to adopt healthy habits and put their health first as a powerful way to help manage stress and anxiety during these trying times.
“Exercise regularly, get restorative sleep and take time for yourself so that you, in turn, are able to take care of others. Speak to a friend or a professional if you are struggling. Follow a healthy balanced nutritious diet which includes fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, and take high quality supplements.”