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Rao T S. It is indeed with immense pleasure and happiness that I pen down these lines!. Indian J Psychiatry 2020;62, Suppl S3:327
The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), established in 1947, is the single largest professional body of mental health professionals in India, having more than 7000 psychiatrists as its members, many of whom are on leading fronts in the country. As the last semester of this year has marked an unprecedented threat in the global landscape in the form of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), challenges in psychosocial health have emerged as a concerning factor in public health worldwide. Pandemics are far from just biological phenomena. The implications that such a widespread biological disaster has on mental health and well-being can outlast the infection itself. India has faced unique challenges during the ongoing crisis, with recently the case load crossing one million mark. Besides the usual risk of neuropsychiatric effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a plethora of factors can influence the psychological state of the general public in the present times. Fear of infection, uncertainty, mass panic, stigma, xenophobia, national and international tension, isolation and loneliness arising out of social distancing, as well as exacerbation of preexisting psychiatric disorders, all can impact the mental health during the ongoing crisis and in the long run. The frontline workers, those affected with COVID-19 and their families, those in quarantine, the age and gender minorities, and finally the migrants and socioeconomically impoverished classes are much more vulnerable and at an increased risk to both the physiological and the psychosocial offshoots of COVID-19. Psychiatrists all over India under the guidance of the IPS are trying their best to avoid holistic care in the biopsychosocial model anticipating the upcoming mental health-related morbidities.
In April 2020, various global public health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have emphasized on the urgent need for mental health promotion and care as an integral measure of public health responses to the pandemic. In line with it, the IPS in May 2020 in its official statement called for a national action at all levels to maintain and enhance the standard of psychological health-care services. Multiple publications have followed from the IPS subsequently related to guidelines for psychiatrists in the management of psychosocial comorbidities during COVID-19, mental health challenges of the frontline health-care workers, and finally standardization of telepsychiatry. This special issue of Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the official publication of the IPS, intends to bring in a similar endeavor compiling global research on “COVID-19 and mental health” to obtain bird’s eye perspectives on holistic care, management, exploration, and understanding of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on mental and emotional health.
Optimism and humanity have always succeeded amidst all the odds. With these hope and prayers, I wish this special issue a huge success to enlighten the dark ways ahead.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
Dr. T S Sathyanarayana Rao
Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None