People with existing mental health challenges, such as those going through depression or anxiety are already ‘quarantined’ by their situation and it may get worse.

Those with depression and anxiety already prefer not to leave their houses. Part of their healing process is usually by encouraging them to go out, but now with quarantine, especially if they are alone, staying home becomes justified and worsens their problem.

It makes it difficult for them in terms of healing and recovery and their depressive episodes may heighten. And as was witnessed in South Africa when a woman in quarantine took her own life, there is the fear of suicide cases escalating.

Anxiety is also a challenge for everyone now because of the nature of the virus. It brings the spectre of the unknown. It removes assurances that would otherwise bring emotional safety and security. Anxiety is about fears and worry. People are afraid of the future, losing jobs, their health and are afraid of losing loved ones.

There are also issues of security, because apart from being a physical challenge, not feeling safe is also an emotional challenge. You don’t feel safe at home or outside now. There is the question of ‘What if’? “What if I get the illness myself? What if someone in my house gets it? What will that look like? How do we cope? How do we manage? Will it spell death for us a family?”

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Mary Mbulwa Mnjama, MA, iaedp™ International Chapter Chair of Kenya

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