New Delhi, April 7 : As the lockdown forced Indians to isolate themselves, mental health experts have urged them to stay positive and not resort to self-harm, domestic violence or substance abuse.

To shed light on the surge in anxiety and depression during the nationwide shutdown, a virtual summit on mental health care was organized by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.

According to experts, the unabated destruction caused by the pandemic across the globe and growing concerns on life and livelihood can severely impact the mental health condition of people which may further aggravate due to the sense of confinement during the ongoing lockdown.

Dr B.N. Gangadhar, Director of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, said, "This is an extraordinary and unusual situation. We need to reach out to these large number of people outside digital media through volunteers, as these are the people who need a lot of reassurance." He said there is an urgent need to democratize mental health and make everyone a part of it. "I hope that states will make arrangements so that medicines are available. The general practitioner can use telemedicine." Dr Rajiv Mehta, who is the vice chairperson of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital's Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, said that "higher-up in the government need to talk about mental health issues, what affects mental health and the signs and symptoms of mental health".

Kamal Narayan, CEO of IHW Council, said the pandemic has thrown everyone into a completely uncharted and hostile situation and the inevitable lockdown has caused different hardships to different people.

"While daily wagers are concerned about their livelihood, students are worried about their future. Unless addressed on time, this could increase India's disease burden manifold," he added.

The experts also highlighted that couples can use the lockdown period to reconnect with their partners and redefine their relationships, which was affected by a busy work-life schedule.

Those who are living with their elderly parents or parents who are living with their young or grown-up children should enjoy the proximity to strengthen their bond, they said.

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