Public Awareness of Mental Health Amid Pandemic

It doesn’t feel like Covid-19 has passed its even one year period, and soon we will enter the new year 2021. If we flashback for a moment this 2020, there is not a single person who has no impact with the Covid-19 virus. Unfortunately, most of them have a negative impact rather than a positive. However, is it true that from the negative impact there is absolutely no learning to be had? Actually it all depends on the point of view of each of us.

In 2020, lots of new terms have emerged, such as:

#just at home

  • WFH (Work From Home) or work from home
  • WFO (Work From Office) or work from the office
  • OTG (converted to asymptomatic or asymptomatic confirmatory case)
  • ODP (changed to close contact)
  • PDP (turned into a suspect case)
  • Toxic Positivity (excessive positive attitude)

From the list above, maybe Toxic Positivity is the most common term for Indonesian people. Actually, this term has existed since before the pandemic, but only went viral this year. The period of positive thinking can be wrong too? Of course there is nothing wrong with that if we interpret positive words excessively. When we think that all problems can be resolved properly only by thinking positively.

Lots of countries, including Indonesia, are still taboo in discussing depression or other mental health issues. Most people think that there is only one mental illness, namely mental disorders. Therefore, many people choose to remain silent and tend to be shy about seeking professional help. In fact, almost all adults must have emotional problems. Even young children and adolescents can experience depression and there are many cases where school or college children commit suicide because they do not get the help they need.

Returning to the topic of Toxic Positivity, many people feel that saying positive words such as “don’t be sad”, “don’t give up”, “there are still many people who are more difficult”, “don’t think too much”, and others are good and useful things. for those who are experiencing depression. Maybe for people who are not in trouble, these words sound casual, but for those who are depressed, they can actually make things worse. Depression is complex and difficult to understand because of cultural factors that do not exist in school lessons. What can be done for our friends or relatives who are experiencing depression is to give them space and time, or just be a listener without having to provide input or advice. We can empathize enough by saying “In this difficult time, it’s natural you feel sad”, “I am here if you need a confidant friend”. Forcing yourself to always think positively can also be bad because constantly holding back your emotions can aggravate or even cause mental illness.

Cost constraints and access to professional help (psychiatrists / psychologists) are also very pronounced in Indonesia, especially for people from the middle to lower class. Therefore, it is important to provide education about emotional health in schools so that people can better understand how to deal with someone who is experiencing depression without professional help. The good news is, nowadays many are more concerned about this, and hopefully with the help of internet access, we can also reach more in the future.

So how do we deal with this ongoing pandemic? Continue to live this life by walking forward and not staying in the place to reflect on the difficulties that have occurred. Positive thinking is important, as long as it is not the only hope we can be free from the problems at hand. Make positive thoughts as our motivation to want to fight and get up, so that we are not easily disappointed and discouraged. In 2020, many plans and resolutions are canceled or may be temporarily delayed, but time is still running and many of us are forced to leave our comfort zone. Again, it all depends on us, is it a good thing or a bad thing? Do we want to stay in the middle of a problem or try to keep going until we get out of the problem? Whatever will happen in the next 2021, hopefully we are all ready to live it, it doesn’t have to be as good as possible, just slowly according to each other’s physical and emotional abilities.