Changing perceptions of health during COVID-19

Current pandemic has created an upheaval leaving people worried and confining them to their homes with longer periods spent in social isolation. This impacts their physical and mental health. Day to day events has witnessed a major shift from the usual course. We often hear that ‘Health is Wealth’, which is central to our happiness and well-being. Its true sense is recently realized which informs us about the essential meaning of physical and mental health at all levels. During the first lockdown period (between 5th to 30th April 2020) an online survey was rolled out to understand the common perceptions of health (both physical and mental) through a set of questions. 401 respondents completed the survey across 25 states of India. Platforms like social media (What’s app, Facebook, and Linked in) and email lists were utilized for data collection. A univariate analysis was carried out to unfold the nuances on physical and mental health during the lockdown period due to COVID-19 situation.

Findings from our study showed varied perceptions on physical health. Around 3 in 4 respondents were consuming an increased number of meals. 49% of the males and a little less percentage of females agreed that there has been an increase in working hours due to work from home or household chores. Around 6 in 10 respondents informed watching TV for long hours. Thus, overall physical health was rated ‘average’ by 40% of the respondents (including both males and females).  Regarding mental health, 68% of the respondents were feeling low during the lockdown while 44% shared that they were facing increased stress to managing professional and personal life. Mental health was rated as ‘average’ by nearly 38% of all the respondents. Furthermore, around 4 in 10 respondents reported an increase in mental health issues owing to economic slow-down, regular news updates on mortality and coronavirus spread, insecurity arising due to fear of loss of job, and lack of social circle. Nearly half of the males and urban respondents perceived that women’s workload has increased under lockdown situation.

Maintaining physical and mental health is key to having a healthy life. Regular physical activities benefit both body and mind, thus reducing cognitive and mental health issues. Further, strengthening primary health care with special mental health services, developing support groups/peer counseling services, crisis helplines, can help address some of the emerging physical and mental health needs.


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