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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 88-93

Mental Health and the Coronavirus: A Global Perspective

1 Founder, The Banyan, and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, Chennai, India
2 Professor, Silver School of Social Work, New York University, U.S.A
3 Senior Consultant in Psychiatry, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, (SBISR), New Delhi, India
4 Chair, International Mental Health Collaborating Network; Regional Vice President, World Federation for Mental Health, Italy
5 Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University, U.S.A
6 Senior Professor of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Alok Sarin
Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/WSP.WSP_51_20

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Any epidemic of infectious disease such as the present one that we are witnessing puts a strain on both the individual and the community. The very basis of physical and emotional health, dependent as it is on the body and social networks, is threatened. Existing inequalities in society get accentuated, and systemic responses that provide succor to all sections of society, especially the marginalized, are critical. Scientific and technological insights will, ultimately, provide solutions (or at least a better understanding), but the broader engagement of the “social body” in this endeavor is very important. Humans are social beings, and the isolation, stigma and the labeling of those infected; indeed, the very “othering” of the virus, makes us concerned about the long-term consequences of this pandemic. From health-care workers and those seeking help who are concerned about imminent infection and morbidity, to those displaced and dispossessed, who now face months of poverty and hardship, the spectrum of mental health needs is very large. Pandemics like this underline the urgent need to work beyond real and imagined boundaries. As a group of mental health professionals and social scientists, we hope that the social and psychological responses will help us emerge from this with a greater sense of harmony and cohesiveness.

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